This 2005 pioneer editorial provides the back ground to Islamic fundamentalism in Kerala which is not a recent phenomenon for those who know the Moplah rebellion in 1920s where of Hindus were brutally killed.
By Arun Lakshman, Pioneer-OP ED, 6 Nov 2005
Islamic fundamentalism has reached the shores of Kerala with the assistance of the governments-in-power. The new star on the horizon of Islamic fundamentalism is the National Development Front (NDF). According to several Intelligence experts and social and political activists of all streams, the NDF is the root cause of Islamic terrorism in the state.
The soft nature of the Indian State is the direct cause of the breeding of terror. Also, the policy of appeasement followed by both the Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF has led to the growth of this hydra-headed monster – Islamic fundamentalism.
The NDF, which came out as a new avatar of the now-defunct Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS), has grown into such a major factor that it has invaded into most of the mainstream political parties and social organisations. Its cadre have become active members of all the political parties, except the BJP. Even the Kerala Congress is not beyond their reach, despite being primarily a church-supported political party.
The NDF has 25 acres of land in Manjeri in Malappuram district, named “Green City”. This is guarded by armed volunteers of the organisation, and there is no access to outsiders. According to intelligence officials, the area is more than 100 acres in size, but the organisation has documents for just 25 acres of land. A police officer, in his deposition before a judicial commission, said that he had registered a case under the Explosives Act when there was a major blast inside the “Green City”. He further observed that the explosion was the result of a remote-controlled bomb testing operation, and no one was injured. Either due to the pressures from above or from the local-level political bosses, such cases are not reported and the culprits go free.
The major operation carried out by the fundamentalist Islamic organisation has been the massacre of eight fishermen in Marad, near Kozhikode, with lethal weapons. The swiftness with which the culprits escaped from the site of the murder of the fishermen has led to the strong belief that it was a planned operation carried out after months of trial and experimentation. Many in the state opine that the NDF was merely testing the collective tolerance of the people.
In February 2005, Kannur district leader of the RSS, Ashwini Kumar, was lynched to death by suspected NDF activists in a moving bus. The administration constituted a special investigation team to probe the murder. But some locals of Manjeri said that the police officers of the special investigation team were denied access to the “Green Valley” – allegedly by NDF activists. This single incident, if true, proves how weak the state machinery has become.
The Muslim League, which was once considered the voice of political Islam in Kerala, was some what moderate in its approach – either owing to the benefits of the power it used to enjoy, or due to the fear that the mainstream political parties would keep it aloof from the corridors of power if it exhibited its true colours. But the League was – and is – instrumental in Kerala’s journey towards Islamic fundamentalism. This was further aggravated by the ostrich-like attitude of the administration and the intelligence agencies, who turned a blind eye towards the fundamentalist outfits as they slowly gained ground in the state.
The Muslim League, which was once considered a cadre-based political party, slowly lost its identity among ordinary Muslims. It turned into a party of big business people, with no care for lower-level workers. The result was the steady influx of the cadre and grassroot workers to fundamentalist Islamic organisations.
Promoted by Abdul Nasser Maudani, a Muslim scholar, the ISS was considered as the first major fundamentalist Islamic organisation of the state. There were several other organisations like the “Sunni Tiger Force” and the “Muslim Development Front”, in addition to the more infamous Student Islamic Movement of India. But the oratory and organisational skills of Maudani resulted in the ISS turning into a major player of fundamentalist Islamic forces. These organisations were of the opinion that the policies practiced by the Muslim League was not what was really expected of it.
With the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, the ISS was banned in the state. Maudani, then, announced the dismantling of the organisation, and turning it into a political party that was christened the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The Coimbatore blasts resulted in the arrest of Maudani, who is still languishing in Coimbatore Central Jail. The CPI(M) had even went to the extent of having electoral arrangements with the PDP in the Assembly polls.
Almost all the political parties, with the exception of the BJP, have – either directly or indirectly – had electoral adjustments with the fundamentalist Islamic forces. And when they are piggy-riding such organisations, none can expect justice from the state against such forms of terrorism. After all, it is these fundamentalist outfits that are the real masters of the political bosses who are ruling the state.
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