By VR Jayaraj
Islamist terror in Kerala has connections with several former Naxalites who are now in the business of rights protection and promotion. Moreover, the fact that more than 75 per cent of all the terror accused and suspects in the country are from the State is enough to earn Kerala the terror hub tag
Terror, in the current sense of the term, has been lying in hibernation in Kerala from early-1990s but authorities failed to identify it. They are paying the price now. The first sign of God’s Own Country’s plunge into terror culture was seen when Islamist leader Abdul Nasser Madani’s Islamic Sewak Sangh aroused curiosity and awe with strange-liveried “volunteers” guarding programme venues with a command force’s alertness and pride. Even then the bosses of the so-called secular parties tended to underestimate the obvious, saying that nobody could shatter God’s Own Country’s communal harmony and love for peace. After almost two decades, they are now beginning to understand —though without much conviction — that had been wrong. As some kind of Kerala links are seen with several national and international jihadi terror plot in the recent times, the police and political leaders are forced to admit that Kerala, after all, need not be the secular paradise of peace they once thought it was.
Terror of another kind has been there in Kerala since the end-1960s and this was directly related to the Spring Thunder in the distant hills of Naxalbari in West Bengal when hardliner communists believed that China’s chairman Mao Tse Tung was ‘our chairman’. It was the time when Kerala Naxalites were in the fast embrace of the theory of annihilation of class enemies and the result was bone-freezing terror as they decapitated “feudalists” when in fact there was nobody in the State to fit the definition of the term. The annihilation theory stayed on with them till 1980 when the last Naxalite-sponsored murder took place in Kenichira in the hilly Wayanad region. By then the Naxalites had begun to split into groups with serious ideological differences and the outcome is that some of the fiercest campaigners of annihilation are now famous apostles of parliamentary democracy. The tragedy is that these men and women do not have a justification to offer to the descendants of Narayanan Nair of Kongad in Palakkad and Mathai in Kenichira who were killed for the sake of the chimerical revolution. With that history smeared in blood in the background, Kerala is now becoming a host of Maoists from the Red corridor who look for rest, rejuvenation and resource mobilisation.
This background of Communist terror is behind the tendency of the remnants of the ‘Naxalite saga’ to help their ideological brethren from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Dakshina Kannada (erstwhile South Canara) and elsewhere. Intelligence agencies reported in the beginning of March that Maoists from the Red corridor had been collecting arms, ammunitions and explosives from Kerala using their local contacts, who obviously were the old-time worshippers of Naxalite guru Charu Mazumdar. It was found that the Red terrorists had collected country-made guns from Thrissur and Palakkad districts, known once for the proliferation of Naxalites, and explosives from central Kerala where Maoist guerrillas were known to be on under-cover operation in the guise of migrant workers in granite quarries and brick manufacturing units. Mallaraja Reddy, a dreaded Maoist from Andhra Pradesh was arrested from Angamaly in central Kerala in December, 2007 when he was on a ‘mission’ in the State. It was then proved that his local aides were some Naxalites who had turned rights activists.
But more shocking was the revelation by two Maoists caught by the Gujarat Police. According to them, some guerrilla combat gurus from the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of Philippines had imparted month-long weapons training to Maoists from several parts of India in some Kerala jungle. The recruits, numbering over 25, included the two under custody and Adivasi and Dalit activists. The strange thing is that the Kerala Police, ruled by Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, is yet to wake up to the seriousness of reported incursion by foreign guerrillas into the State for subversive activities. Shocks do not end there. Last week, the Central Intelligence Bureau found that about a dozen hardcore Maoists from the Dakshina Kannada region entered into Kerala territory through the northern jungle borders on a ‘mission’ which was yet to be identified. The group, including some six women extremists, had escaped to Kerala after an encounter with the Karnataka Police near Udupi. As usual, there was no confirmation or denial from the Kerala Police but they have at least started efforts to step up reconnaissance along the borders.
The other side of terror — jihad —is far more serious and extensive in God’s Own Country and bosses of the so-called secular parties are partly to blame for its growth. That the Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF had unanimously passed a resolution in the State Assembly demanding release of Madani in 2006 from the Coimbatore prison where he was lodged in the Coimbatore blasts case was a typical example of this. The more interesting aspect of Islamist terror in Kerala is that it has connections with several former Naxalites who are now in the business of rights protection and promotion, Dalit outfits who crave for just social recognition and a good life — but through the wrong paths — and several other groupings. Though jihadi terror has been reality in God’s Own Country since the start of the 1990s, the first major act was seen on September 9, 2005 when a group headed by LeT’s south India commander Thadiyantavide Nazeer, accused in several terror cases including the Bangalore blasts of 2008, set a Tamil Nadu bus on fire to expedite the release of Madani. Madani’s wife Sufiya, who had enjoyed opportunities of meeting almost all top leaders, including even the country’s then Home Minister Shivraj Patil, is 10th accused in this case.
That was just the start. On March 3, 2006, Nazeer and his men carried out two simultaneous blasts in Kozhikode city, which, according to sleuths, were part of a “dry run” for the Bangalore blasts. On August 15, 2006, a group of SIMI activists held a secret meeting at Panayikkulam near Kochi, which is now seen as the launch-pad of the Indian Mujahideen-sponsored terror strikes in the country. In December, 2007, SIMI held a full-fledged training camp among the temperate hills of Vagamon in Idukki district and this was the practical springboard of several LeT terror acts that shocked the nation. All this while, religious classes and Twareeqat camps were going on with the main mission being recruitment of young men into LeT. In October 2008, four jihadis from Kerala were killed by security forces in Kupwara sector, Kashmir when they were trying to cross over to Pakistan for advanced terror training. The biggest of the shocks with regard to jihadi operation in Kerala was the revelation that Tahawwur Hussain Rana had held an extensive tour of Kochi prior to 26/11 and that he had got local help for this. All these events gave Kerala a prominent — if not the central — spot on the jihadi terror map of India. More than 75 per cent of all the terror-accused and suspects in the country are from Kerala. That much for the myth of God’s Own Country’s enduring religious harmony and sociology of peace.
Source: The Daily Pioneer, New Delhi