Tamil Nadu tastes jihadi bloodshed. Conversion ban Law scrapped to appease minorities and consequences are bitter. The stark truth that faces Tamil Nadu is that Ramalingam joins the 140+ Balidanis within a couple of decades who fell to similar marauding fanaticism
The kick delivered by Ramalingam, 48, on his Jihadi attackers could have saved his 17-year-old son Shyam Sundar on that fateful night, but he had to succumb to the mortal wounds. His hands were chopped off for the crime of objecting to a group of Islamic proseytisers the day before. This happened not in any Islamic land such as Syria or Iraq but in Tirubhuvanam, a small but bustling town, off Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District in Tamil Nadu.
BJP naitonal secretary H. Raja consoling the slain Ramaligam's kin
Variously described as marriage contractor and former PMK activist by the mainstream media, V Ramalingam is a Hindu who incidentally happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Pointing to the fanatic Muslims in matters of cordial gestures from other faiths, Ramalingam asked proselytisers to leave the dalits alone, according to video clipping doing which went viral just days before the murderous attack on him.
- There is no law to ban conversion in Tamil Nadu and proseytisers are free to pouncing on vulnerable sections of Hindu society as was the case in Tirubhuvanam
- An appeal to support Ramalingam’s family in a crowdfunding website fetched 22 lakh rupees on day one, going on to a total of Rs 30 lakhs the next day. Most of the respondents were from several parts of India
The stark truth today in Tamil Nadu is that Ramalingam joins the 140+ Balidanis over a couple of decades who fell a victim to jihadi terror. No, he was not a Swayamsewak or a worker of BJP or Hindu Munnani and but the pseudo-secular leaders and Leftist media - both print and electronic denied him an opportunity to deliver his views under the guise “combating communalism. There was the bunch of urban naxals manoeuvring to justify the gruesome murder by pointing out that Ramalingam smeared holi ash (Vibhuti) on the forehead of a Muslim proselytizer. The fact that he himself wore a skull cap indicate that he respected both religions. Saner elements came out with the outright rejection it deserved. Dr S Ramdas, founder of PMK and father of former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadas, did not mince words when he said that Ramalingam was murdered because he objected to a Islamic religious conversion. The reason for brazen attack? There is no law to ban conversion in the state and proseytisers are free to pouncing on vulnerable sections of Hindu society as was the case in Tirubhuvanam.
People protesting against the gruesome killing of Ramalingam in Tamil Nadu
Now a piece of old news to ruminate. Here it is: “Tamil Nadu State Government declared on May 21, 2005 that the anti-conversion law is no longer in force in the State. (The anti-conversion law was brought into force in 2002 by CM Jayalalithaa's Government. However, after meetings with senior Christian and Muslim leaders, agreeing with their request, the law was repealed by ordinance on May 18, 2004). The Government then said it wished to assure the full protection and safety to all minorities in the State.” What of the fate of members of majority community, ask critics. The State Government owes an answer to that.
Let that day dawn when the State Government would think of reviving the anti conversion law. Meanwhile, an assortment of politicians took a calculated 3-day nap before half heartedly mentioning Ramalingam Murder. DMK chief MK Stalin’s one liner was the result of insiders goading him into releasing his statement as the jihadi involvement has become too blatant to neglect. The Stalin tweet: “We strongly condemn Ramalingam Murder. Perpetrators, to whichever religion they may belong, should be brought to justice and punished”. Not conent with fulfilling the formality of issuing a statement, VCK Chief Thol. Thirumavalavan tried to dilute the charges on the murderers. A piece of his mind: “Thirumavalavan, in his recently concluded Ph.D. thesis submitted to M S University, Tirunelveli, had argued that it was only because of the religious conversion of Dalits at Meenakshipuram to Islam has helped them to raise their status in the society”, observes an analyst.
H Raja of BJP visited the deceased’s house and consoled the family members, particularly Ramalingam’s son. State BJP chief Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan pointed out, “Ramalingam was killed the next day he prevented religious conversion.. the culprits should be punished.” Kumbakonam observed a total bandh to protest against the Jihadi murder. Hundreds of workers of Hindu organisations and of the BJP were taken into custody in the town when they tried to take out a procession to express solidarity with the bereaved family.
If the murder was intended to create panic among Hindus, the perpetrators miserably failed to achieve it. Yet, no national outrage now as was seen in the Gauri Lankesh or Kalburgi murder, lamented social media posts. All the same, indications were clear that the society at large is very much with the victim’s family. An appeal to support Ramalingam’s family in a crowdfunding website fetched 22 lakh rupees on day one, going on to a total of Rs 30 lakhs the next day. Most of the respondents were from several parts of India.
It was the police which identified PFI activists in the social media video showing Ramalingam persuading them to give up conversion. An outcry against PFI followed. Eight persons, all Muslims, were arrested under various sections including section 302 of IPC. Al have been remanded in judicial custody and lodged in Tiruchy prison. Members of Tirubhuvanam Jamat tried to initiate a compromise and they had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of stiff opposition by irate Hindu women of the town. While a few Urban Naxals demanded a CBI investigation, obviously to embarrass the State Administration, well meaning observers hoped the NIA should step in, as it has ample experience in handling Jihadi cases.
For over a week, Ramalingam murder could put brakes on the feverish coalition parleys among parties in the State. The parties have since resumed it. But rumblings linger.
(The writer is a Chennai based senior columnist and writer on topics of national interest)