Malabar to separatism and fundamentalism
When CPM-led Left Front Government of EMS Namboothiripad launched Malappuram district at the behest of their coalition partner Indian Union Muslim League in 1969, Sangh parivar organisations and other nationalist forces had warned the people that it was paving the way for separatism and fundamentalism. Because, the method of the very geographical formation of the district itself spoke out what did it mean. The district was formed my merging together the Muslim majority areas of Thrissur, Palakkad and Kozhikkode districts. Obviously the idea was a Muslim majority district. RSS and Jan Sangh took the lead roles to campaign against the ‘Communal District’. Jan Sangh ran an all India agitation against it. Hundreds of Jan Sangh leaders and workers from over the country came to Kerala to agitate and court arrest. Late Bhairon Singh Shekhavat, Madan Lal Khurana and Major Gurbachan Singh, the chief of the army sent to Kerala to control the law and order of the state when EMS’s first ministry was dismissed by Nehru government due to Liberation Struggle of 1959, were some of the prominent national personalities among hundreds of activists who courted arrest in Anti Communal District Agitation. ABVP conducted a massive signature campaign among students against the neo fissiparous tendency. But, since Sangh parivar organisations were not strong enough in the state in 1960s to mobilise the public opinion against this antinational measure and since the common people could not realise the danger behind it, the struggle could make much head way. And, the communal district became a reality in 1969 itself. Naturally IUML men turned jubilant. But, it was an indication of what was in the store. IUML could take a lot of pro Muslim steps when a pro IUML district administration took over. Conversion and winning more seats in local self governing bodies and assemblies were the direct gains for the party. Favouritism was alleged. IUML leaders were telling in personal talks that Malappuram district was a just a beginning. Now, those talks are proving true.
Couple of weeks back, Noushad Manisserry, Malappuram district secretary of Muslim Youth League, the youth wing of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), demanded the division of Kerala. He demanded a new state named Malabar with Kozhikode as the capital city. Youth leaders planned to approach Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) with this demand. It is reported that what they need is a new state which should include “7 districts, right from Thrissur, along with the inclusion of Mahi and the Nilagiri district of Tamil Nadu.”. The reason cited for the demand for a new state is that “it will be the sole solution” that will “help in the progress of the region”. The Youth League had earlier sought the formation of a new district by dividing Malappuram, with its headquarters at Tirur, the epic centre of the infamous Khilafat movement of 1921. They appear to be inspired by the division of Andhra Pradesh which resulted in the formation of Telangana. Political observers believe that this is a carefully orchestrated move to form a state with Islamic suzerainty. Since Kerala is a small state (unlike former UP), there is no logical justification for the division of it.
When it raised every eye brow, the ‘usual eyewash’ came from the ‘seniors’. It was even reported that Panakkat Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, the IUML supremo and spiritual leader of the community, himself had asked the youth leaders to keep quiet.
Elite people of Kerala believe that youth leaders were instrumental to throw a feeler. Thus the senior party leaders get an opportunity to gauge the public reaction and plan the future designs accordingly. This is a clear warning the nationalist forces should take care of.
Should government overlook Islamic terrorism to soaring prices of onion?
Asim Kumar Mitra
Recently a serious question has come up before the minds of thinking people as to which one is most important political issue for them – Islamic terrorism or onion? In the last week of August, to be very specific on August 26, 2013 the Centre for Research in Indo Bangladesh Relations had organised a seminar at Kolkata on Religion and Terrorism and erudite speakers on this subject expressed their anguish over the possibility of increasing terrorist activities by fundamentalist Muslims. In their opinion, far from being on the wane, Islamic fundamentalism may gain momentum in the subcontinent in the days to come.
With the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Al-Qaida would find it easier to operate for the sub continent, Institute for the Foreign Policy Studies of Calcutta University Jayanta Ray said. The success of Muslim Brotherhood in the elections following the uprising in Egypt 2011 had encouraged Al-Qaida, he argued. Bangla-desh had witnessed the growth of Hefajat-e-Islam in recent years. It is imminent that in no time a spurt in the Islamic terrorist activities would be increased in West Bengal, a bordering state of Bangladesh.
But it seems that our forces on duty to combat terrorism and infiltration from Bangladesh are more interested in their new assignment to stop smuggling of onions to Bangladesh. It is true that in yesteryears, onion had played a dangerous role in toppling down the Delhi government run by Sushma Swaraj and after that it played havoc in the elections of state assemblies and parliament. So ignoring onion in the political arena would be a risky proposition. But it does not mean that by putting extraordinary importance on onion, one should ignore the importance of national security and integrity at the behest of Islamic threat. Unfortunately this is going on.
National Security Council member Prakash Singh while speaking in the above mentioned seminar agreed that the present military action in Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood could only drive it underground. He quoted from a RAND Corporation report which said that India would continue to face Jihadi threats from Pakistan and cited Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafeez Saeed’s speeches to underscore designs of LeT. This is a very serious development which a conscious government could hardly ignore.
But at the present juncture, arresting of the soaring price of onion has become a crucial issue for our politicians. Because of the large domestic demand, the Centre has fixed the export rate at 650 dollars for a ton of onions. A month ago, the price was between 400 dollars to 450 dollars. “Earlier, more than 1,000 tons of onions were exported to Bangladesh each day. The current figure is a mere 5% of that,” Debashish Saha of Krishna Traders, one of the biggest exporters of onions, said.
Sensing that smuggling could lead to a shortage of the vegetable in the country, India has tightened security at all the seven land ports in Bengal along the Bangladesh border. All trucks passing through the border are being thoroughly checked for onions.
“Onion exports to Bangladesh have almost stopped. But because of the crisis there, prices are rising. So, onion smuggling has suddenly become a money-spinner,” said Kartik Chakravorty, secretary, Clearing and Forwarding Agents’ Association at Petrapole. Trucks carrying other goods are also being searched in case they have hidden onions, Chakravorty added.
Similar checking is on since last week at all the seven land ports, including Ghojadanga (North 24-Parganas), Changra-bandha (Cooch Behar), Mohdipur (Malda), Hili (South Dinajpur) and others.
At this point of time the security forces are busier with the onion export. Naturally, they overlook their duty of detecting infiltrators from Bangladesh. Hence people of the border areas pose a pertinent question that what about tackling of infiltrators including terrorists in disguise which apparently is most serious problem for India at this moment. How can our security forces afford to overlook them?
When several speakers in the seminar held at Kolkata pointed the above board and clandestine activities of Islamic terrorists, onion politics should not get so much importance. In that seminar Awami League leader Amir Hossain Amu from Bangladesh feared that the reaction against the pro-democracy Shahbag movement in Bangladesh could turn into terrorism as incidents of attacks on the police snatching of weapons were taking place. BNP leaders Moyeen Khan and Osman Farooq argued, however, that “state terrorism” perpetrated by the government was recorded as “law and order action”.
Tipu Sultan mosque (Kolkata) secretary general Aziz Mubaraki, however said that Islamic fundamentalism was not the only instance of terrorism being influenced by religious ideas. Islam did not preach violence and those associated with terrorism were not the representatives of the community. It was important to preach correctly the values and the messages of Islam, he felt.