Sanju Sadanandan & Nirupaka Bharati
Kerala is no doubt lush green geographically. But the place has undoubtedly been a fostering ground for some of the most skilled anti-national and terror activists of India. In what can be termed as the latest feather in the state’s terror cap, Kerala born ultra-Left ideologue Rona Wilson was arrested for spearheading a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It was in 2014, during the Lok Sabha election rally in Kerala’s Kasargode that Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, had made a statement regarding terror activities being nurtured in God’s Own Country. His words “Kerala had the potential to become a tourism hub but has been converted into a nursery of terrorism,” was nothing but a bitter horrifying truth. Umpteen reports, including the latest, related to extremism and terrorism, substantiate it. Recent arrests by Maharashtra police unearthed a plot, which had sought the assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. News reports reveal that the Kerala link—Rona Wilson, the prime accused, is a native of Kerala.
Incidentally, this is not the first time Kerala has been linked to Narendra Modi’s security threat. Another terror threat had loomed large during his visit to Kerala in 2017, for the flagging off of the maiden run of Kochi Metro Rail. The Prime Minister’s convoy route was lined with a huge, unwieldy mob on the previous day of his visit. People hailing from Puthuvype, a coastal hamlet on the outskirts of the city had gathered en masse, protesting against an LPG gas plant being built in the area. According to reports, police had to resort to force for removing protestors, who had organised a sit-on-the road. It was then that former DGP TP Sen Kumar, who was in charge, spoke of “There was a big threat perception here on the day of the Prime Minister"s visit. There was a terror module here during his visit. Extremist outfits were funding these protests against the installation of LPG plant of Indian Oil Corporation.” He had also hinted at how there was intelligence information about a terror module that was active. The statements made by the former police chief were part of his justification in clamping down the huge mob. The recent arrest of Rona Wilson and his Kerala connections, no doubt validate the statements of TP Sen Kumar.
However, this is not the first time Kerala has been linked to the assassination plots of Narendra Modi. Pranesh Pillai, who had converted to Islam and had assumed the identity of Javed Ghulam Sheikh, was one of the group members, who was gunned down in an encounter in Gujarat, way back in 2004. A native of Kerala, he was one of the members of the notorious Ishrat Jahan gang. According to intelligence reports, Ishrat Jahan and her associates were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives and were assigned the task of assassinating Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat then.
The Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) has always been a major threat to India’s national security, occupying its place in India as the fourth most deadly terror outfit, after Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram. The Narendra Modi led government has spared no efforts in tackling them head-on, after assuming office in 2014. Stringent action has also been initiated against the Maoists and the Naxals in the last couple of years, especially in the country’s northern region, where the threat of Leftist groups stands high. The effect of these crackdown operations started showing results when incidents of violence came down to a three-figure number in 2017. This was the first of its kind in a decade. With this, the nation witnessed the migration of the LWE to the southern parts of India, including Kerala. Recently, the Union Home Ministry added three districts of Kerala to Maoist watch-list.
The Left fraternity in Kerala has always followed the ‘nip in the bud’ policy to challenge political opponents. Most of their ‘violence politics’ agenda exposes how they choose their victim- mostly bright, resourceful personalities, who have ample dedication in spearheading the nationalistic movement efficiently and proactively. They are selected and eliminated at a very young age. The challenge being faced by nationalistic organisations including the BJP, in southern parts of India, especially in Kerala, where Communist parties have a strong grip, is the murderous politics being practised by leftist political organisations. The Central leadership of BJP and RSS have been resorting to various initiatives in nabbing the Left intolerance, in democratic ways.
Amongst those numerous initiatives taken by the BJP has been the release of Aahuti, a book that details the martyrdom and sacrifices of BJP-RSS activists of Kerala. The book was released on September 25, 2016, at the party’s national executive meeting in Kozhikode by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of other senior leaders. The Prime Minister pointed out in clear terms that “violence, as a way, is undemocratic”, “which should never be resorted to”, “just because one fails to tow in line with the ideology of another political faction”. ‘Aahuti’, originally written in English was translated into many languages like Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi.
The clarion call given by Narendra Modi, “urging karyakartas not to treat Aahuti as just another book you received during your stay in Kerala. Instead, Aahuti should be debated upon and contemplated over, in all states of Bharat, so that the voice (of those who have been wronged) could reach Delhi.” This led to a spate of further activities. When Modi thundered about “the helpless cries of Kerala’s karyakartas” probably “not reaching Delhi”, scores of RSS-BJP karyakartas across the country decided to further the cause. They actively sought to conduct mass agitations in various parts of the country, against the widely exposed Leftist Terror in Kerala. In lower house and the upper house of Parliament of India, Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe raised the issue of how they have been victims of political vengeance. The issue has been raised in Parliament several times. Thus the Communists and their politics of murder and the other methods of brutality they resorted to for doing away with political opponents, was exposed before the entire nation.It was for the first time in the history of India, that the sacred walls of Parliament House echoed with vivid narratives that exposed to the world outside, the helpless cries of hapless nationalist victims.
Subsequently, BJP conducted an awareness rally throughout Kerala named ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’, against the ‘Red Terror’ of CPM and ‘Pro-Jihadi’ stand taken by different political organisations. Thousands of people from various walks of life joined BJP’s peaceful march, which was led by former BJP president of Kerala, Kummanam Rajasekharan. The yatra, conceived under the guidance of BJP president Amit Shah and Party in Charge of state BL Santhosh, spanned across the length and breadth of the state, touching all districts. Several national leaders and Central Ministers pledged their active presence and participation in the agitation. The outcome was stupendous with the Communist fraternity visibly upset over their true visage being exposed so bluntly, that too on a national scale. Thus, people witnessed a diminution in political killing and violence in the state.
Along with Left and ultra-Left extremism, Islamist terror groups and organisations have a luxurious base in Kerala. One sees frequent reports flying in, about how Malayalis are recruited en masse, for furthering the nefarious activities of the deadly ISIS. Scores of Malayalis are believed to pledge their services to the radical Islamist group ISIS, in brief span of four years, with scores of them being killed in various parts of Iran, Syria and other Gulf regions. This, according to reports, is the largest recruitment that has taken place from any Indian state. Along with joining ISIS, Kerala also holds the distinction of having the largest number of casualties, amongst the people having joined the dreaded terror module. Reports have also pointed out obvious cases where girls of non-Muslim background are converted from their religion and made to join ISIS. The IS modules have their henchmen here, who use the bait and strategy of romance to exploit love, lure and convert, in such cases. The ill-famed ‘Love Jihad’ cases have been primarily reported from Kerala, thereafter being majorly hit by the social malignancy.
Worse still is that fact that extremist modules, apart from recruiting people from Kerala to further their cause of global terror, instigate these people in fighting against their own country. In fact, four suspected militants killed in two separate encounters with security forces in Kupwara district in early October of 2008, were from Kerala. According to police reports, the slain terrorists Muhammed Fayaz (23), Muhammed Fahiz (24) were natives of Kannur. Abdul Raheem (28) hailed from Malappuram and Muhammed Yassin (28), from Ernakulam. According to Jammu & Kashmir police, the youths were killed by security forces as they crossed the Indian border near Lolab Valley in Kupwara district, 115 km from Srinagar, while they were coming from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
In 2018, the NIA Court in Kochi had sentenced 18 activists of SIMI, a banned outfit, to seven years in jail after they were found guilty of organising an arms training camp in Vagamon, Kottayam district in 2007. In 2016, Court sentenced 21 accused in the Narath arms training camp case to varying years of imprisonment, after they were found guilty of offences charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The prosecution case was that the accused persons, from Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India activists, had organised an arms training camp at Narath in Kannur on April 23, 2013. Another case pertaining to IS training camp is currently underway, with NIA having submitted charge sheets in the Court. In October 2016, following a tip-off from intelligence agencies, NIA busted an IS module that had gathered for secret meetings at Kanakamala in Kannur. The group was planning to carry out attacks in various parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu including mosques, temples and churches. It had also planned to attack police officers, High Court judges and BJP leaders.
Yet another serious security threat, being faced by Kerala, is that of the large presence of illegal migrants. A major security challenge is that there is an unprecedented upsurge of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, who cunningly use the migrant tag, in order to settle in Kerala, after obtaining fake IDs. With the number getting out of hand, security agencies have started sending smoke signals to political masters, with many officers fearing that illegal immigrants could pose a greater threat than Maoists. Kerala has alternately been ruled by Communist and Congress alliances for several decades. Both alliances shirk away from their share in contributing to the utterly perilous condition of the state. Recently, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan waxed eloquence in the state Assembly about Islamic extremism in the state. Former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan also remarked that “Islamic outfit PFI was pumping money into luring youth to Islamic fold and persuading them to marry Muslim women. Their strategy is to make Muslims a majority community in Kerala... In 20 years, they want to make Kerala a Muslim majority state,” he said. In 2012, former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2667 young women had been converted to Islam in the state since 2006. In 2003, former Chief Minister of Kerala AK Antony had made a remark on “minorities in Kerala” being “powerfully organised”. Antony had said that “They have secured more privileges and benefits from Government, through collective bargaining. Unlike the rest of India, minority communities here dominate the state"s political and administrative echelons. It cannot be allowed.” Inspite of having made these statements, Communist and Congress leaders seemed to be endlessly pledged in support towards extremist activities and appeasement policies, for the mere gaining of political mileage.
The Kerala Assembly consisting of the Communists and the Congress representatives unanimously passed the resolution seeking the release of terror accused Abdul Nasser Madani, accused in the conspiracy of Coimbatore blast case. The SIT had argued that the blast was part of a conspiracy to eliminate Home Minister LK Advani during his visit to Coimbatore on the same day. Later, Pinarayi Vijayan was publicly seen sharing the stage with him, with the Leftist fraternity joining hands with his political party during election time. Madani was again arrested in connection with Bangalore blast. But this has not deterred Kerala’s Congress-Communist leaders from travelling all the way to Bengaluru and visiting him. Former Vice President Hamid Ansari attended an event in Kozhikode last year, co-organised by National Women’s Front (NWF), the women’s wing of Popular Front of India. PFI stands accused in many extremist activities, with their activities being under close scrutiny by various security agencies.
Leafing through the pages of recent history, investigations and enquiry commission reports revealed the involvement of major political party activists in Marad Massacre, Punthura and Pathanamthitta communal riots etc. Recently, Kerala has witnessed widespread violence unleashed by Islamic fundamentalists in the name of Kathua incident. Police arrested hundreds of people from the state, for being directly involved in violence. Even more appalling is that those arrested belonged to various major political parties. It only cements the widely known open secret that Congress and Communist party members have been joining hands with extremist elements. Muslim League, an allied partner of Congress has made their demand clear, of dividing Kerala and making a separate state based in Malabar region. Communist party had formed the Malappuram district in the early sixties, accepting the demand of Muslim League. IUML was an alliance partner of Communist party led front, those days. According to the latest census, Malappuram is the highest populated district in Kerala. What more, CPM independent leader and Minister in the present Kerala Ministry KT Jaleel, is allegedly a former SIMI leader. As per the affidavit submitted by PFI to Kerala High Court, many former SIMI activists are now holding lucrative positions in various major political parties in Kerala, including Jaleel.
Once, Swami Vivekananda had spoken on Kerala as a ‘lunatic asylum’. However, the relentless work rendered by great social reformers of the land like Sree Narayana Guru, Chattampi Swamikal, Mahatma Ayyankali etc had turned the land to ‘God’s Own Country’. Now the state is facing the blemish of being a ‘Nursery of Terrorism’. In spite of there being multitudinous attempts and initiatives towards restoring the erstwhile glory and pride of Kerala by various personalities, in the group and on an individual level, the Communist and the Congress fraternity of the land term these as ‘anti-Kerala Movement’. These people are the ones who hold the sole prerogative of the perilous scenario today, ensuring that any constructive move is barbarously stomped down. But the Karmic cycle will ensure that the birth land of Adi Shankara will definitely undergo a rejuvenation process, with the cultural glory and heritage of the land reinstated back. Therefore, the renaissance of ‘God’s Own Country’, is undeniably going to be in the near future.
(Sanju Sadanandan is a software engineer, social activist and member of Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Karnataka & Nirupaka Bharati is a writer and a columnist in Malayalam and English)