The Tamil Veda – Koenraad Elst

R. Nagaswamy with Kanchi Shankaracharya

Dr Koenraad ElstDr Nagaswamy is … the foremost epigraphist of Tamil and of Sanskrit in South India. I recently met him for the first time at the book presentation in Delhi, and was struck by his enormous erudition and responsible scholarly attitude. – Dr Koenraad Elst

Linking Tamil with the Vedas seems to be a ploy by the wily Tambrams (Tamil Brahmins) to justify their own existence. They seek to explain their imposition of the ugly invasion-derived patriarchal casteist Aryan culture on the peaceful feminist egalitarian native Tamils by inventing a primeval Tamil Vedic culture. Or so the anti-Brahmin Dravidianist movement, in power in Tamil Nadu for more than half a century, will assure you.

This book, Tamil Nadu: the Land of the Vedas, by R. Nagaswamy, tells a different story. The author is a Tambram alright. But he is also the foremost epigraphist of Tamil and of Sanskrit in South India. I recently met him for the first time at the book presentation in Delhi, and was struck by his enormous erudition and responsible scholarly attitude. In this authoritative 640-page book, he gives an overview of the Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions found throughout the towns and villages of Tamil Nadu, and thereby reconstructs the true history of the region. Far from being an aboriginal zone on which the foreign culture of the invading Aryans was imposed, it turns out to have been pervaded with typically Vedic culture since the beginning of the written sources.

This is where the problem starts, for “when the Dravidian movement was at its height, … a claim was made that there was ‘pure Tamil’ at the beginning which was unadulterated by the Aryas.” (p.169) And in fact, that may well be true, but then long before the first texts were written. Even the oldest Tamil writings show signs of Sanskrit influence, with Tolkāppiam’s first grammar already modelled on Sanskrit grammar and Tiruvalluvar’s first poems already influenced by Vedic culture.  But long before that, out of sight for us, we can still infer that there must have been a time that Tamil was spoken there, and Sanskrit or Prakrit were not.

Settlement of Brahmins

In the age well before Christ, Tamil rulers started inviting Brahmin communities to settle around their capitals and confer the prestige of Vedic civilization upon their dynasties. As soon as written history starts, we see magnates and rulers surrounding themselves with Vedic culture, witness e.g. the praise for the royal sacrifice Rājasūya Yāga performed by a Chola king, by the famous poetess Avvaiyār. (p.6) In inviting a Brahmin, Tamil magnates applied four criteria: (1) he studies the Vedas; (2) he is poor; (3) he has a large family; and (4) he is honest and righteous. (p.2)

The Patiṛṛupattu poems point out that the ancient Tamil kings studied Vedas and Vedāngas, and performed daily Vedic rites mentioned as Pañca Mahā Yajñas in Vedic tradition. Avvai, the greatest poet of the Sangam age, praises the three crowned Tamil kings for performing Vedic sacrifices. All the Chola kings studied the Vedas and established Vedic colleges. All the great Tamil kings of the Sangam age performed Vedic sacrifices as seen from Puranānūru poems. In birth rites, death rites, marriage rites etc., the ancient Tamils followed Vedic injunctions. The kings appointed Vedic scholars as their chief ministers and presented them with lands called brahmadāyas.

It was among the duties of Brāhmins to interpret law to the villagers. As a consequence of the brahminization of their societies, the ancient kings followed prescriptions of Dharma Śāstra. The process of elections to village assemblies, the subcommittees called vāriyams and the paruṭai (pariṣad) system were the backbone of village life. The epigraphical wealth of Tamil Nadu shows that the sabhā system of the Vedic tradition was widely spread throughout the province. The Vedic Dharma Śāstras, esp. Manu and Yājñavalkya, were the most followed judicial texts. The technical language of these texts are used verbatim in judicial pronouncements, taken from Tamil records from earlier than the 7th century. Even the selection of judges was made after their passing an examination on Dharma Śāstra. Individual grhya sūtra texts like Āpastambha and Baudhāyana were the guiding principles of family life.

The most ancient Tamil grammar Tolkāppiyam followed Bharata‘s Nātya Śāstra in the division of the landscape as aintinaikaḷ. Likewise, the division of poetry into aham and puram based on sriṅgāra and tāṇdava of Nātya Śāstra. The famous text Silappadikāram is a nāṭaka kāvyam (dramatic composition) based on Nātya Śāstra. This was composed to glorify the karpu (chaste) form of marriage prescribed in the Vedic system. Kaṇṇaki the heroine was married as per the Vedic rites.

ānasambandar

In the 7th-9th century, four principal Shaiva poets or Nāyanmārs lived, three of them Brahmins. (p.171-212) Saint Jñānasambandar, who was the greatest contributor to Tamil music and devotional literature, was a chaturvedi who was performing daily Vedic rites. Saint Appar was an agriculturist, who has rendered several passages from the Veda, especially Śrī Rudram, into delightful Tamil. Nammaḻvār‘s Thiruvāymoḻi is so replete with Vedic passages, that his poems are called “Vedas rendered in Tamil”.

The one who gets most attention here is Tirujnānasambandar, who is worshiped as incarnation of Murugan. In Madurai, though, Sambandar came in conflict with the Jains. He gave a realistic description of Jains as fasting, wandering naked, eating with their hands, shouting in Prakrit, plucking their hair, emitting foul smell because they refrain from washing themselves, cleaning their teeth or washing their mouths, not knowing the Vedas and their auxiliaries, and frequently resorting to arguments. (p.200-201)

It gets worse when they burn down his abode: “When the mandir in which Sambandar stayed at night was torched by the Jains, he sang the heat should afflict the Pāṇḍya for not offering protection to Shaivites.” (p.198) Still he desires to engage the Jains in debate for ridiculing the Vedic sacrifices: “In two songs, he declares his intention to debate with them. He cures the king, but the Jains say that Sambandar had first made him sick with a mantra. In a fire test, his palm leaf remains unburnt; in a water test, his palm leaf flows upstream, not so that of the Jains. The Jains had first demanded that the losing side be hanged; another version is that Sambandar demand they become Shaiva, part of them do, other prefer the gallows.”

In their frantic attempts to somehow counter the Hindus’ enumeration of the countless Muslim atrocities on them, the secularists had seized upon Sambandar as the long-sought-after case of a Hindu who did to others what Muslims so royally did to them. But no, that is not what happened. Sambandar never persecuted the Jains and answered their ridiculing his own tradition with a civilized offer of a debate. He only concluded a wager with his Jain critics, viz. that the loser of the competition adopt the sect of the winner. No blood or persecution involved. It was the reigning king who saw to it that those who did not abide by the contract, suffered the self-chosen consequences.

Hundreds of songs, e.g. on each of the places of Shaiva pilgrimage, or to ward off bad planetary influences, or as a musical invitation to dance, are cited here. These often feature the Shaiva title Naṭarāja: “Western Indologists … say the word natarāja is found in inscriptions only from around the 14th century and so the concept of natarāja itself is late and has nothing to do with the Vedic tradition.” But already “Sambandar says Śiva is ‘the king of dance’ (naṭam āḍiya vēntan)” which “is a definite proof to show the concept of natarāja is earlier to 600 CE.”

Southeast Asia

The Vedas have been the perennial spring of Indian and the whole of South East Asian civilization, for the past 3500 years in almost all fields of human culture including History, Art, Architecture, Music, Dance, Administration, Judiciary, Law, Social life and so on. The rulers of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and other lands, besides all parts of India and its Northwest, have been following the Vedic laws (the smṛitis) and personally observing codes of life which are specifically mentioned in hundreds of ancient records through the centuries. The monumental holdings like the great temples of Ankor Wat, Ankor Tom, Bantai Sri of Cambodia and the temples of Prambanam in Indonesia were mainly inspired by great Vedic scholars. Tamil Nadu equally benefitted from the very beginning from the riches of Vedic lore. Shaṅkara‘s contribution to the outlook of the Tamil temple movement is discussed as seen from an inscription in a Chola temple.

Expanding Tamil culture even served as a conduit for spreading Vedic culture to Malaysia (Tamil malai = mountain), Indonesia (India-island), Thailand (erstwhile capital Ayuthaya = Ayodhya) and Cambodia (Kambūja, originally the name of a part of Afghanistan). Thus, in Cambodia, we find the worship of the goddess Nidrā, prayed to in the Vedic Nidrā Sūkta, long forgotten by most Indians.

Caste

After this excursus on Southeast Asia, the last part of the book (p.612-626) is explicitly about Tambrams. Yet: “It is however wrong to imagine they alone have contributed to this richness. Every section of Tamil society has produced men of greatness.” (p.626) The point is well taken, but I estimate that it will not convince the Dravidianists.

Nor will the cursory nod to some non-Brahmin castes. Thus, the Cholas recognized that the country was mainly based on the rural economy and so entrusted the revenue administration of the village in the hands of officers belonging to the cultivators’ family of Veḷḷālas, conferred with the title mūvendavelārs. The Chola kings established several nallur as exclusive cultivators’ villages in addition to the brahmadeyas of the Vedic Brāhmanas. This is all too transparent as perfunctory lip service to modern egalitarianism. It is like the popular Hindu reference to Shankara’s distinction between ātma vidyā (self-knowledge) available to everyone, and veda vidyā (knowledge of the Veda) exclusively available to the upper castes: a consolation prize for the non-Brahmins.

We dare to suggest, however, that the Dravidianists drop their casteist perspective and their envy in order to take pride in the Tamil Vedic heritage. As for the non-Vedic part of their heritage, no one is preventing them from writing an equally impressive compendium.

Conclusion

This book is one of the major academic contributions to the study of Tamil culture. For learners of Tamil, it can at once serve as a reader providing another view of some 2300 years of Tamil literature. Nagaswamy points out “Tamil Nadu continues to be the Land of the Vedas”, thus summarizing the book’s message. – Pragyata, 20 July 2017

» To buy the book (Rs 900), call Chennai at (044) 2491 6005 or write to Tamil Arts Academy, 22nd Cross St, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 600090.

Tamil Nadu: The Land of the Vedas by R. Nagaswamy

Freeing temples from state control – Subramanian Swamy

Srirangam Temple Gopuram

Subramanian SwamyWhat is scandalous is the corruption after the takeover of temples as politicians and officials loot the temple’s wealth and land, and divert donations of devotees to non-religious purposes. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment on January 6, 2013, allowing my Special Leave Petition that sought the quashing of the Tamil Nadu Government’s G.O. of 2006 which had mandated the government takeover of the hallowed Sri Sabhanayagar Temple (popularly known as the Nataraja Temple).

The Madras High Court Single Judge and Division Bench had in 2009 upheld the constitutionality of the G.O. by a tortuous and convoluted logic that new laws can overturn past court judgments that had attained finality earlier. The Supreme Court in 1953 had dismissed the then Madras Government’s SLP seeking the quashing of a Madras High Court Division Bench judgment of 1952 that had upheld the right of Podu Dikshitars to administer the affairs of the Nataraja Temple while dismissing all charges of misappropriation of temple funds against the Dikshitars. The Supreme Court thus made this judgment final and hence that which cannot be re-opened. But in 2009 the Madras High Court did precisely that. In 2014, in my SLP, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde therefore termed this re-opening of the matter as “judicial indiscipline” and set aside the 2009 Madras High Court judgment as null and void on the principle of res judicata.

In their lengthy judgment, the Bench has clearly set the constitutional parameters on the scope of governmental intervention in the management of religious institutions. In particular, the Court has opined that any G.O. that legally mandates a takeover of a temple must be for a fixed limited period, which I had suggested as three years.

The Dravidian movement intellectuals and politicians in various parties in Tamil Nadu are incensed with the judgment. The recent article “Reforms in the House of God” (A. Srivathsan in The Hindu January 13, 2013) is one such example that laments the Supreme Court judgment.

In this Dravidian movement background, it is not difficult to understand the views of those who believe that Hindu temples ought to be managed by the government, and that any deviation is a social, ethical, moral and legal sacrilege! In Mr. Srivathsan’s article it is stated that: “For almost a century, the Tamil Nadu government has been trying to bring the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple or the Sabanayagar Temple as it is officially known, under state administration”. This is one expression of the outlook that only Hindu religious affairs need to be managed by the government. The obvious question, why should a “secular, socialist” government control only Hindu places of worship, but not Muslim and Christian religious institutions clearly has been avoided.

But the country has moved on after the phase of British imperialist grip on Tamil Nadu during which phase the Dravidian Movement was founded. Prominent leaders of this Movement had declared that “blowing up of the Nataraja Temple by a cannon is the goal of the Dravidian Movement”. Unfortunately for them, in the last two decades, the rising popularity of the Hindu religion among the youth, and the debilitating corruption in financial affairs of the Dravidian movement have made such a violent aim unattainable. But the biggest roadblock is the Constitution of India.

In fact, what is scandalous is the corruption after takeover of temples by the Tamil Nadu officials, MLAs and Ministers by looting the temple wealth, lands, and jewels, and the reckless diversion of donations of devotees to non-religious purposes.

For example, temple properties: Tamil Nadu temples, under Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, has control over more than 4.7 lakh acres of agricultural land, 2.6 crore square feet of buildings and 29 crore square feet of urban sites of temples. By any reasonable measure, the income from these properties should be in thousand of crores of rupees. The government, however, collects a mere Rs. 36 crore in rent against a “demand” of mere Rs. 304 crore—around 12 per cent realisation. How much is under the table only a court-monitored inquiry can reveal. In any corporate or well-managed organisation with accountability, those responsible would have been sacked. Yet, we have people rooting for “government administration”.

Temples themselves: The Srirangam Ranganathar Temple paid the government a (yearly) fee of Rs. 18.56 crore (2010-11) for “administering the temple”; for employees rendering religious services, like reciting Vedas, pasurams during the deity procession, no salary is paid. There are 36 priests in Srirangam who perform the daily pujas—they are not paid a monthly fixed salary. They are entitled to offerings made by devotees and a share in the sale of archana tickets. Yet the temple pays a monthly salary ranging from Rs.8,000 to Rs.20,000 for the temple’s government-appointed employees, like watchman, car drivers etc. who perform no religious duties.

The situation is “significantly” better at the famous Nelliappar Temple in Tirunelveli. In this temple, priests performing daily pujas are paid monthly salaries, but ranging from Rs. 55 to Rs. 72 (and this is during 2010-11). But did some politician not say you can have a hearty meal for Rs. 5 per day? But it is just Rs. 1.65 per day, going by the standards of the “secular” government.

Many large temples maintain a fleet of luxury vehicles, typically the “fully loaded Toyota Innova”, for the use of VIPs! And for the use of assorted Joint and Additional Commissioners and, of course, the Commissioner himself. It is very difficult to understand the religious purpose such extravagance serves or even a ‘secular’ purpose! The HR & CE Dept takes away annually around Rs. 89 crore from the temples as administrative fee. The expenditure of the department including salaries is only Rs. 49 crore. Why does the government overcharge the temples—literally scourging the deities—for a sub standard service?

Temple antiquity: The third “contribution” of the government is the mindless destruction of priceless architectural heritage of our temples.

There are several instances of sand blasting of temple walls resulting in loss of historical inscriptions; wholesale demolition of temple structures and their replacement by concrete monstrosities; in a temple in Nasiyanur near Salem, an entire temple mandapam disappeared, leaving behind a deep hole in the ground, literally.

Recently the government started covering the floor of Tiruvotriyur Thyagaraja Temple with marble, a stone never used in south Indian temples. The original floor was of ancient granite slabs with historical inscriptions. There are several initiatives for “renovation” of temples—the bureaucrats rarely consult archaeologists or heritage experts. Without knowledge, experience, competence or appreciation and with great insensitivity they use inappropriate chemicals on ancient murals, insert concrete/cement structures, use ceramic tiles to “embellish” sanctum sanctorum and construct “offices” within temple premises. Ancient monuments 300 to 1000 plus years old are never “renovated”, only “restored”, a distinction that escapes the babus.

More importantly, the Supreme Court, in the 2014 Chidambaram case has held that the government cannot arbitrarily take over temples, which is what has been happening in Tamil Nadu under the Dravidian movement’s influence.

In the case of Trusts and Societies, takeover of temples can happen, the Supreme Court held, only on establishing a clear case of mal-administration and that too the takeover can be for a limited period, and the management of the temple will have to be handed back immediately after the “evil has been remedied”.

There are several large temples in Tamil Nadu under government control for several decades. If the Supreme Court judgment is applied, then the government is in illegal, unethical and unfair control of these temples. apart from being answerable for innumerable acts of dereliction of duty, defiling of temples that has resulted in loss of several thousands of crores of rupees to the temples and to their antiquity. That is my next move—to liberate all Hindu temples presently in government control on expired GOs. In the future we need to bring some mosques and churches to rectify the mismanagement going on in these places. Then the secularism of India’s intellectuals will be truly tested. – The Hindu, 12 September 2016

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple

Jallikattu: Protests and Anti-Nationalism – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu

JournalistJallikattu remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized … it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. … The bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powder in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc. – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport conducted in the villages of a few districts of Tamil Nadu, was banned by the Supreme Court of India in May 2014. Though there were attempts to remove the ban in 2015 and 2016 during the Pongal festivals, the attempts failed and the ban seemed to settle permanently bringing the centuries old tradition to a grinding a halt. However, this year the country witnessed a week-long statewide protest involving youth and students, culminating in the passage of an ordinance by the State Assembly which was immediately enacted as a law. But in the process, the state also witnessed a sort of revival of separatist and anti-national movements in the name of Tamil culture utilizing a supposedly genuine student movement. Before going into the details of the protests, a look into the history of Jallikattu will be in order.

Ancient Hindu tradition

The original name of Jallikattu is “Yeru Thazhuvuthal” (Hugging the Hump of a Bull) and its history dates back to the days of Lord Krishna, as evidenced by Srimad Bhagawatham, which talks about Lord Krishna taming seven bulls in order to marry Naknajeeti, daughter of King of Koshala. The same is sung by famous Vaishnavite Saint Periyazhvar, who describes Naknajeeti as “Nappinnai” in his “Paasurams” (Hymns). Other Vaishnavite Saints like Thirumangai Azhvar and Nammazhvar have also mentioned it in their hymns.

The excavations of Indus Valley Civilization have also given an idea on such a tradition of bull taming in practice those days, as evidenced by the seal excavated from the site. The seal depicts the sport in which a bull tosses a man. Scholars like former archaeologist late Iravatham Mahadevan have confirmed this fact. Dr Kalyanaraman, Director of Saraswati Research Foundation has also confirmed the usage of Bulls in agricultural practices during the times of Indus-Saraswati civilization which dates back to 5000 years.

Yeru Thazhuvuthal has also been mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature like Kalithogai. Chozhan Nalluturhiranaar, a Sangam age poet, has sung in detail about this sport in his song named Mullaikal. Epigraphic inscriptions are also available for the practice of this sport for centuries in Tamil Nadu.

The sport has also helped the production and preservation of native breeds, as Tamil Nadu has a tradition of “temple bull system” which  is an agricultural practice clubbed with devotion and sport. The temple bulls have a special privilege of mating with number cows in its village and the same has also been exchanged with the bulls of other villages. Also during the conduct of Jallikattu, the temple bull will be the first to have a free run from the “Vadivasal” entrance chute to the sport arena) which will not be touched by the participating youth, as a mark of reverence. Pujas will be offered to it along with the temple Deity, as it is considered as Nandi Bhagwan, before the beginning of the sport.

In some districts a slightly different tradition is followed in the name of “Manju Virattu” or “Eruthottam” which is just chasing the bulls crisscrossing the village without the practice of taming them.

Hence Jallikattu is undoubtedly a Hindu religious and cultural tradition dating from the time of Lord Krishna to the present times through Indus-Saraswati civilizations and Sangam ages.

History of Jallikattu in the courts of law

The village sport remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized and the government started using it as a tourist attracting sport for the sake of revenue, it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. Untraditional practices got into the system and the bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powders in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc.

Apart from cruelty heaped on hapless bulls, the sport also took the lives of youth and bulls too. Scores of youth have lost their lives; thousands of youth have been grievously injured and maimed for life over the years.  All these happenings attracted the attention of animal lovers and animal welfare organizations leading to cases being filed in the courts of law against the sport. In fact, the animal welfare organizations have been fighting against the sport for more than three decades. The legal history of Jallikattu goes as follows:

South Indian Humanitarian League and Blue Cross of India have been taking up the issue and submitting memorandums to the State Legislative Assembly against the  conduct of the sport for almost thirty years, with a request for a permanent ban.

2004: On a petition requesting for the conduct of Rekla sport in Ramanathapuram, Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla gave permission to conduct the sport without hurting the bulls.

2006: A petition requesting for the conduct of the sport was filed in Madurai Bench of the High Court. An aggrieved father, who had lost his only son in Jallikattu, also filed a case seeking ban of the sport. Justice Banumathi, taking into consideration the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 in its totality, banned all sports involving Bulls such as Jallikattu, Rekla, Bullock cart race, etc.

2007: On an appeal filed against Justice Banumathi’s order, HC Bench comprising Justices Elipi Dharma Rao and Janardhan Raja allowed Jallikattu, but, with some regulations under the supervision of District Collector, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Animal Welfare Doctors and Animal Welfare organizations. Organisations like AWBI and PETA filed an appeal at the Supreme Court and on 27 July 2007, the SC issued an interim stay order.

2008: Later on 11 January 2008, Justice R. V. Ravindran and A, K, Patnaik ordered permanent ban of jallikattu. But surprisingly, they permitted Rekla Race, which is still worse and crueler. However, within a couple of days, the state government filed an appeal and the same bench revoked the ban and allowed the conduct of jallikattu albeit with regulations.

2009: Tamil Nadu government brought an ordinance (Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009) in the state assembly, making an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. The government however failed to obtain the mandatory Presidential assent to the Ordinance.

Between November 2010 and March 2011, the Supreme Court allowed the conduct of sport with regulations and under the supervision of district authorities and animal welfare organizations.

2011: Environment and Forest Minister of UPA government Jairam Ramesh issued a notification including bull (and its progeny) in the List of Performing Animals.

2012: Animal Welfare activist Radha Rajan filed a case at the Madurai Bench of High Court seeking ban of the sport. Bench comprising Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice Karuppaiya almost decided to ban the sport and pronounced the order orally on 12 January 2012. But after witnessing the huge hue and cry and commotion created by the Jallikattu enthusiasts and the pro jallikattu advocates in the open court, they gave 24 hours time to the Advocate General of the central government. The next day, on 13 January 2012, the same bench permitted the sport.

In the meantime, between 2009 and 2013, AWBI recorded the cruelty heaped on the hapless bulls and submitted the recording and documentation to the Supreme Court.

2014: On 7 May 2014, SC Bench comprising Justice K. S. Radha Krishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandrabose gave the land mark judgment banning Jallikattu and other sports involving  animals (bull and its progeny, cocks, etc.). In their judgment, they also emphasized the fact that the animals also have fundamental rights and freedom rights.

Steps taken by BJP government

Right from the day it took office, the BJP led NDA government has been acting in support of Jallikattu. Minister Pon.Radhakrishna from Tamil Nadu has been taking the required steps by taking the issue up with Prime Minister and other concerned ministers.

On 7 January 2016, the center released an order removing bull (and its progeny) from the List of Performing Animals. However, based on a petition by animal welfare organizations, the SC stayed the order on 12 January 2016. Then after hearing the arguments put forth y both the central and state governments, the SC ordered a permanent stay of Jallikattu on 26 July 2016. However, the center preferred an appeal.

In the meantime, the office bearers of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum met Senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy and sought his help and legal guidance. When Dr Swamy approached SC on 7 December with his impleading petition, he was asked to submit his arguments in writing. On 14 December he submitted written arguments, which contained the following significant points:

Jallikattu is protected by Article 29(1) of the Constitution, as it is a religious and cultural tradition in practice for centuries. (He had placed all the facts from Srimad Bhagawatham to Sangam literatures and Temple Bull tradition, etc.)

Jallikattu is a part of Tamil Hindus’ fundamental duties to preserve the cultural and religious traditional values and hence it is protected by Article 51(A) (f) of the Constitution of India.

There is no provision in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 that could support enforcement of a permanent ban on Jallikattu or even for a limited period. Even if a ban on Jallikattu could be made based on the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, such provisions would be hit by Article 13 of the Constitution of India.

A ban on Jallikattu—an ancient practice that is both cultural and religious—is not only unconstitutional—it is also in violation of the Doctrine of Proportionality. Apart from the above points, Dr Swamy has also dealt with in detail regarding how Jallikattu helps in the preservation of native breeds leading to healthy agricultural practices. He has also mentioned about the medicinal values of dung and urine of native breeds.However, the SC refused to deliver the judgment before Pongal.

Jallikattu protests

The social media like Facebook and WhatsApp were on fire with news and reports in favour of Jallikattu and the fire spread fast far and wide, creating a sort of uprising among the youth and student communities. Jallikattu was projected as Tamil pride and Tamil culture and a sustained campaign carried out through the social media platforms resulted in a statewide movement. Youth and students started congregating at the Marina Beach in Chennai, Thamukkam grounds in Madurai, V.O.C. Park in Coimbatore and other such venues across the state from 17 January onwards. They indulged in peaceful protest demonstrations seeking to ban PETA in India and also to lift the ban on Jallikattu.

As the demonstrations were peaceful, government and the police preferred to be mute spectators and just regulated the protestors. The protesters also cooperated with the police, without disturbing the traffic and commuting of general public. The college managements and parents also extended their support to the students.

The student uprising across the state surprised both the central and state governments. However, they preferred to allow the peaceful protests, probably in order to send a message to the Supreme Court. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn assured all supports to the state government to pass an ordinance. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan for his part took the office bearers (Mr.Rajasekar and Mr Karthikeyan Senapathy) of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum to Home Minister, Law Minister and Environment and Forests Minister for a detailed presentation of the issue and further consultations. The center also requested the Supreme Court to postpone the final hearing for a week, in order to facilitate the passage of ordinance.

Infiltration of anti-national forces

Noticing the student uprising and the government’s passive reaction to it, anti-national outfits which have their own agendas to grind, intended to utilize the Jallikattu movement to their advantage. They started infiltrating the protest venues from the end of the second day onwards. The students also allowed them believing that they are from the general public coming in support of their movement. Although they refused to entertain film starts and political leaders in the beginning, in due course they could not stop film personalities and leaders of small outfits taking charge at the venues. Other major opposition parties sent their cadres disguised as students. Soon, anti-national outfits were seen very actively protesting against the central and state governments in the protest venues across the state.

Slogans against national integration and the idea of united India and slogans in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation were shouted. Slogans personally attacking Chief Minister and Prime Minister were also shouted. Banners and posters having such anti-national slogans were also carried by the protesters. Vulgar songs were also sung and some elements indulged in obscene dancing too.

Although the media have been in support of the protesters in general, one particular TV channel, News-7, was very active and it also had the full support of protesting outfits.

Political observers are of the opinion that some forces inimical to the state and central establishments could be behind the uprising right from the beginning.  They also said that the role played by News-7 needed to be investigated.

Anti-national outfits and their agendas

The following anti-national outfits infiltrated the protest venues and changed the direction of the movement, in order to achieve their hidden agendas.

People Art and Literature Forum / Students Federation of India / Democratic Youth Federation of India are well known outfits functioning with Communist ideologies. They act as fronts for Maoists and Naxals and their activities are always against the establishment. As the Naxal and Maoist movements have been terribly affected by Prime Minister’s demonetization, they were waiting for a chance to create law and order unrest and violence. This Jallikattu protest came as a blessing for them in the state level and they utilized it as much as possible.

Revolutionary Youth Front / Revolutionary Students Front act in support of not only Maoists but also Tamil separatists. The cadres of these outfits conducted funeral procession carrying Prime Minister’s effigy.

They raised slogans personally attacking PM and were holding vulgar posters too.

May 17 Movement, which was founded during the Eelam War IV, was in the forefront of Jallikattu protests. But, the cadres were shouting slogans not in support of Jallikattu but in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation. They also propagated for a separate Tamil national flag through social media and wanted to thwart the Republic Day celebrations. Thirumurgan Gandhi, who is the founder president of the outfit, was seen openly instigating the crowd through his speeches. He also gave interviews to TV channels.

Nam Thamizhar Katchi is a political party founded by actor/director Seeman. This party also supports Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation ideologies. The cadres of this party conducted pro Jallikattu rallies much before the student movement began. They have a tacit understanding with Islamic extremists. Known for his chameleon characteristics and double standards, Seeman has also supported the jihadis on cow slaughter and beef eating.

Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath / Social Democratic Party of India / Popular Front of India are some of the Islamic militant outfits, which infiltrated. These outfits are known for strategies of operating in the guise of social service, as they operate ambulance services and blood banks in many places. Through such services, they indulge in conversion activities and involve those converted people in acts of extremism. The cadres of these outfits infiltrated in the guise of doing services like serving food and water to the protesters. The gullible students allowed them, as they were starving without food and water. It was a sad irony that the Jallikattu protesters were served beef biriyani by these outfits.

These outfits are well known for their anti-national activities such as smuggling, spreading counterfeit currencies, indulging in hawala transactions, bomb blasts and murdering leaders and functionaries of Hindu organizations. Many of them have been arrested by state police and NIA for various offences. These cadres were seen carrying posters of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Palani Baba during the protests.

It must be noted that these outfits were also terribly affected by PM’s demonetization steps, as they could not indulge in any of the illegal activities.  So, they wanted to extend the protests for a few more days in order to sabotage the Republic Day celebrations and allegedly had plans of causing extensive damage to life and property. As a confirmation of the allegation, two jihadis were arrested in Madurai on the eve of Republic Day, for carrying pipe bombs.

Facebook and WhatsApp were fully utilized by these outfits for instigating their community to utilize the jallikattu protests to carry out anti-national activities.

Foreign funded NGOs and Congress Party have played a major role in instigating the protesters against central government. Ever since the BJP government took office, the Union Home Ministry has started cracking down on the shady activities such as religious conversions, etc., of these Church sponsored Christian NGOs. Those NGOs which have not submitted their financial accounts as per FCRA were brought under the scanners of IT department and Enforcement Directorate and thousands of such NGOs have been asked to shut their operations in India. Hence, backed by the Church and the Congress party, these NGOs played their role of instigating the students against the central government.

Minority educational institutions have also voluntarily sent their students to join the protests in large numbers, as they are also against the new education policy of the BJP government.

Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), a dalit party, though against Jallikattu, has utilized this protest, to instigate the crowd against the central government. This party has close relations with jihadi outfits and hence, preferred to support them to carry out their anti-national agendas.

Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) the parent organization of all Dravidian parties in the state is a rank anti-national outfit right from its formation. Though the party’s policy is against Jallikattu, it allowed its cadres to infiltrate the protest venues, just to instigate the protesters against the central government. These cadres were seen shouting slogans against PM, BJP and RSS.  This party also has very close relations with Jihadi and Xian organizations.

DMK, the primary opposition party, also sent its cadres to infiltrate the movement in large numbers in the guise of students, in order to instigate them against the state and central governments. Although the party played its own role in bringing a ban on Jallikattu during the previous UPA regime, it projected itself as a pro Jallikattu party during the protests, with an ulterior motive of whitewashing its crime and bringing a bad name to BJP government.

High Command of AIADMK party played a very significant role during the protests with a motive of bringing down the chief minister, so that, it can occupy the chair.  In my previous cover story published after the death of former CM Jayalalithaa I had mentioned about Mr Natarajan, husband of Sasikala as follows:

The most important thing for the center to do is to keep a close watch on Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. It must remember that Natarajan has allegedly been the Sutradhari all these years, scripting each and every move and act of Sasikala in controlling the party, government and its leader Jayalalithaa. Natarajan is not an ordinary force. He has close acquaintances in all the parties and has good political connections across the country. He has been flirting with pro LTTE elements and also Tamil separatists. One of the most significant things which Jayalalithaa did was keeping him away from political limelight. But it’s a different matter that he took it to his advantage and carried on his shady activities. Now he has come out in the open and he must be kept under surveillance.

Things have happened during the Jallikattu protests in such a manner proving my above comments. The party high command of late, has become wary of Chief Minister Panneerselvam, as he seemed to be very accommodative of center listening to its advice and suggestions and acting accordingly for the well being of the state and its citizens. The CM earned the praise of general public for the way he had handled the Vardah cyclone.

As the Jallikattu protests started, he preferred not to clamp down on it and instead instructed the police to allow the protests to continue. On the other hand, he moved swiftly and coordinated with the center, met the Prime Minister personally and initiated required actions for the passage of the Jallikattu ordinance in the assembly. Fearing that Panneerselvam’s position would become stronger if the Jallikattu issue is solved, the Mannarkudi Mafia acted in haste by instigating the crowd.

The party high command was also in the center of controversy over the secrecy surrounding the hospitalization and death of former chief minister Jayalalithaa and it seemingly fears an investigation on the same. The knife of disproportionate assets case hanging on its head is another concern for it. So, it wanted to make full use of the jallikattu protests and capture the CM’s chair.

News-7 TV channel is run by mineral baron Vaikundarajan, who is close to Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. Political commentators, who closely observed the Jallikattu protests and the coverage done by News-7, are of the firm opinion that both Natarajan and Vaikundarajan had played a huge role behind the scenes, instigating the protesters to act against both the state and central governments. Confirming this point, Tamil daily Dinamalar in its issue dated 21 January, carried a five column report on CM-PM meet alleging that the CM had reported the shady activities of Natarajan to the Prime Minister.

Violence and riots

After getting the assurance of both the state and central governments that an ordinance would be passed immediately and a special session of the assembly would be convened to pass the ordinance as law, Jallikattu Forum announced the withdrawal of protests and appealed to the student community to withdraw from the protest venues immediately. Accordingly most of the students left for their homes.

As committed, the state government tabled the ordinance in the assembly and it was passed as a law on 21 January.  However, all the above mentioned anti-national outfits, and a small section of students, who were blinded by their propaganda, remained at the venue and refused to withdraw their protests. Although the senior police officials explained them in detail several times about the passage of ordinance and promulgation of law for the smooth conduct of Jallikattu, they refused to withdraw from the scene.

Meanwhile, in many places in Tamil Nadu Jallikattu was conducted peacefully though it took the lives of three persons including one policeman. Chief Minister, who proceeded to inaugurate the famous Alanganallur Jallikattu was stopped in Madurai itself, as the protesters continue their protests in Alanganallur. The CM however, preferred not to act in haste and came back to Chennai.

As the anti-national outfits were taken aback by the swift action of both the governments which brought immediate end to the protests, contrary to their expectations, they remained at the protest venue making demands like immediate ban of PETA, permanent solution for Jallikattu, etc.

Times of India reported that the people from nearby kuppams (fishermen hamlets) were offered 20,000 rupees per house for arranging food and 500 rupees per person to join the protests, by inimical forces which are against the central government. Even during the week-long protests the churches in the vicinity were seen supporting the protest demonstrations, as the coastal belt is predominantly populated by Christian community. So, the Times of India’s report must be seen with this fact in mind, so that the role of foreign funded NGOs could be understood.

Unable to digest the developments, they resorted to rioting and violence on Monday 23 January. Police stations were set on fire knowing fully well that a few personnel are inside. Policemen were attacked, women police were molested, police vehicles were torched, traffic was blocked in many places, cars and motorcycles were smashed and torched, public and private property were damaged and violence was unleashed across Chennai city and many other parts of the state. In the violent process, animal welfare activists were also not spared and their residences and offices were intentionally attacked.

The state police swung into action and brought the situations under control within a day. They were very restrained in their act, without harming the student community. They dealt only the anti-national elements with an iron hand and arrested many such elements across the state.

Thoroughly exposed anti-national elements

The week-long Jallikattu protests have thoroughly exposed the anti-national outfits and their devious agendas. The photographs and video clippings being shared on social media would serve as strong evidence against them. The state police also have got irrefutable evidences against these outfits, as confirmed by the senior police officials during their press meet which was organised after the protests were brought under control. Based on these evidences, both the governments must act immediately and enforce a total permanent ban on these anti-national outfits. Elements involved in violence and other anti-national activities must be brought to book. Any slackness on the part of governments would only help the revival of these forces leading to a Kashmir like situation in Tamil Nadu.

The youth, students and the general public have a huge responsibility. Through this firsthand experience they must understand the difference between democracy and anarchy, whom to support and who not to support. Based on such an understanding, they should strive to help the government, police force and the security agencies by rejecting and isolating the anti-national elements, which would help the development of the state and progress of the nation and prevalence of peace and harmony. – Uday India, 8 February 2017

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Chennai Protests Jallikattu

14 – Tamil Nadu in the grip of Jihad – Thamizhchelvan

Begumpur Mosque Dindigul

JournalistBegampur Mosque in the Muslim-dominated Begampur area of Dindigul. No procession of any kind is allowed to pass by the mosque. The mosque was built by Hyder Ali and is administered by the Prince of Arcot Trust. Since 1952 it has been serving as headquarters for the fundamentalist Sunni revivalist movement Tablighi Jamaat. – Thamizhchelvan

While the district of Ramanathapuram has become a hotbed for jihadi activities with a Muslim population of 20 per cent and being a fertile ground for all Islamic fundamentalist organisations, other districts of Tamil Nadu are not far behind. Some like Dindigul, Vellore, and Thirunelveli follow Ramanathapuram closely, with others catching up. The Hindu Munnani documentary depicts the jihadi activities taking place in 19 other districts as well.

Dindigul

In the Muslim-dominated Begampur area of Dindigul (Dindukkal), it is reported that no procession, whether a temple festival procession or funeral procession, is allowed to pass by the mosque. This mosque was built by Hyder Ali and has, since 1952, been serving as headquarters for the fundamentalist Tablighi Jamaat, a proselytizing and revivalist movement. The documentary asserts that this mosque has become a safe haven for fundamentalists and their activities.

Besides restricting processions, they do not allow even electoral campaigns in the area. On 18 April 2014, cadres of actor Vijayakanth’s DMDK were restricted from campaigning and were attacked when they persisted. The local inspector justified this, saying that the party cadres should not have come to the ‘prohibited area’. The police cannot take any kind of action against the community either for a traffic offence or a petty crime as the police station would be besieged by hundreds of Muslims protesting against the action.

A stupid Hindu girl riding to disaster!The documentary asserts that conversions and love jihad are happening in Dindigul. The brother of a girl who was converted through love jihad has testified in the documentary. A local BJP leader also testifies about the proselytizing activities of fundamentalist organisations, which run centers (“Arivagam”) for the purpose. Exclusive centres for women are also there. The documentary says that most of the cell phone service centers are owned by fundamentalists, who tacitly provide the numbers of Hindu girls to jihadis, Muslim auto drivers provide details of movement of Hindu girls.

Three years ago, when the Tamil Nadu government announced that it would construct a memorial for Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan as “freedom fighters”, members of Hindu Munnani protested and conducted a sustained and successful campaign against it. The Dindigul Hindus overwhelmingly supported the campaign leading to government dropping the idea of constructing the memorial on public land. During that campaign police filed cases against Hindu Munnani cadres for pasting posters in the town. But when posters appeared against the Hindu Munnani, the police refrained from filing cases and removed the posters themselves, as shown in the documentary.

The documentary says that several mosques have come up on all the bypass roads leading to Dindigul and most have become save havens for fundamentalists and their activities. Today, Dindigul town is literally under jihadi siege. Mohammed Haneefa alias “Tenkasi” Haneefa, an accused in a case pertaining to placing of pipe bombs along the route of BJP leader L. K. Advani’s rath yatra in 2011, was arrested when hiding in a mosque in Vathalagundu near Dindigul.

Palani, sacred abode of Lord Murugan, is in Dindigul district. Fundamentalists have encroached upon the footpath (taking shops on lease and sublease) leading to the hill shrine and indulged in sacrilegious and immoral activities. Finally the local Hindus had to file court cases leading to the court ordering the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Department to clear the footpath leading to the shrine of encroachments. Senthil, who belongs to the organisation which filed the case, testifies in detail in the documentary.

Islamic fundamentalism has raised its head in places such as Sithaiyan Kottai, Aathoor, Aiyyampaalayam, Vathala Kundu, Nilakkottai, Chinnalappatti, Kodaikanal, Pazhani, Neykarapatti, Kalayamputhur, Aayakudi, Chathirapatti, Viruppaachi, Oddanchathiram, Kallimandayam, Kannivaadi, Sriramapuram, Vedasandur, Vadamadurai, Ayyalur, Kovilur, Kujiliyampaarai, Natham, Vempaarpatti, Gopalpatti, Sendhurai, Keeranoor, Maanoor, Balasamuthiram in Dindigul district.

M.H. JawahirullahSivaganga

Amidst several jihadi incidents, the documentary notes two specific issues in Sivaganga district. In the aftermath of the murder of Dr. Arvind Reddy in Vellore in 2012, the BJP organized a protest meeting at Illayangudi. Senior BJP leader and national general secretary H. Raja was addressing the gathering, condemning the effete police and the MLA Jawahirullah, when hundreds of fundamentalists belonging to TMMK pelted stones and threatened the leader and other functionaries. The meeting came to an abrupt end and the police simply registered cases against ‘unknown persons’ and allowed the case die a natural death. H. Raja explains the incident in detail in the documentary.

In another place called Piranmalai, extremists have been making bombs from a secret location in a nearby hill for years. A series of incidents have happened in Madurai in the last few years, though on a small scale, with bombs procured from this Piranmalai, which, due to police indifference, has become a den for terrorism.

Thanjavur

In April 2014, Muruganandam, the BJP candidate for the Lok Sabha, was targeted by a mob while campaigning at Mallipattinam in Thanjavur district. When Muslims objected to his campaigning in the locality dominated by them, Muruganandam asserted his democratic right as a candidate and tried to continue campaigning. However, he and his party men were attacked. The police came and forced Muruganandam to leave the place. In the meantime, the jihadis, who indulged in violence, took refuge in a nearby mosque. The documentary shows the entire incident, at the end of which police were seen begging the jihadis to come out. They finally took a few jihadis sent by the leaders in the mosque for filing cases. Muruganandam explains the incident in detail in the documentary.

Conversion is also rampant in the district and the documentary details the conversion of four women (Lokeswari, Ambika, Sharmila and Kalaichelvi of Pasupathi Kovil area) and how they were separated from their families.

Thiruvarur

Muthupettai in Thiruvarur district is a den of Islamic fundamentalism. In December 2013, police caught hold of a drone that fell in a residential area, which belonged to one Thameem. It has the capacity to capture images in a periphery of 200 meters and record voices. A camera was also fitted in it. Yet, the police returned the drone to him terming it a play toy. The documentary questions this action as Muthupettai is notorious for jihadi activities and many smuggling activities are going on in the nearby coastal areas.

Nagapattinam

Nagapattinam is another coastal district fast catching up with Ramanathapuram in terms of Islamic fundamentalism. In a government-aided Muslim educational institution, Gavudhiya Higher Secondary School, a Hindu teacher, Selvaraj, was sent to prison on false charges of sexual harassment for being a supporter of Narendra Modi as the Prime ministerial candidate. Although the school management is aware of the truth, it was helpless due to the pressure exerted by the local MLA Nizamuddin.

The documentary describes the rampant conversions going on in Nagore and Nagapattinam. Hindu youth, both male and female, working in textile shops and mobile service outlets, which are mostly owned by Muslims, are extremely vulnerable to conversions. Most of these workers belong to the Scheduled Castes and are converted easily by threat and enticements. The documentary, citing the family of one Shanthi as example, asserts that more than 30 youth have been converted in Nagore alone and the organisation behind this is Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath.

The documentary also talks about secret terror training camps in Nagore. It cites a grove behind a restaurant called ‘Nice Hotel’ which allegedly serves as a den for fundamentalists. It shows various other incidents such as disruption of Hindu festivals, demeaning of Hindu Gods, encroachment of temple lands, etc., happening widely in Nagapattinam district, which is very fertile ground for fundamentalist organisations like PFI, TMMK and Thowheed Jamath.

Karaikkal

Karaikkal, a town close to Nagore, is a part of the Union Territory of Pondicherry. When Al Umma was banned in Tamil Nadu for indulging in terrorist activities, including the RSS office bomb blasts and Coimbatore serial bomb blasts, the Pondicherry government refrained from banning it. This helped the organisation to create a den out of Karaikkal. So, Karaikkal, despite a low density Muslim population, served as a safe haven for the fundamentalist elements of nearby Tamil Nadu towns.

Here also Love jihad and subsequent conversion are rampant. Properties are being bought by Muslims on a large scale and obstruction of temple festivals and processions are widespread.

Cuddalore

Parangipettai, a coastal town in Cuddalore district is another jihadi den. Gul Mohammed Maraikair (37) of Parangipettai was deported by Singapore when found influencing the Muslim youth there to join ISIS by giving them jihadi literature. He was also instrumental in influencing and sending one Fakrudheen from Singapore to Syria in July 2014. Fakrudheen, of Parangipettai, was working in Singapore while his parents are still in Cuddalore. He went to Syria directly from Singapore along with his family and is fighting for ISIS now.

One Ashraf Ali, an Indian Mujahideen operative from Rajasthan, was hiding here for a while before he was arrested by Rajasthan’s anti-terror squad in July 2014. Another resident of Parangipettai, Qutbuddhin, was picked up by the state police in connection with the murder of Hindu Munnani leader Suresh from Ambattur, Chennai.

When Tamil separatist actor, Seeman, president of ‘Naam Thamizhar Party.’ organized a public meeting in Cuddalore in support of LTTE and its late leader Prabhakaran, he had brought in Kashmiri separatist, Yasin Malik, to address the gathering in May 2013. The documentary shows Parangipettai as a breeding ground for jihadi terror.

Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram district, which is close to Chennai, has pockets of Islamic fundamentalism. Tambaram is one such pocket, where the TMMK is very strong. The organisation launched its political party, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK), here. The Tambaram market is dominated by fundamentalists who are creating all sorts of problems for Hindu traders; the documentary describes some incidents.

Similarly, Madippakkam is another area where jihad is on the rise. Encroachments and illegal constructions are going on by jihadis. Yakub, district president of TMMK, was involved in attacking the US Consulate in Chennai during protests against the film Innocence of Muslims.

Vellore

Vellore district’s two towns, Ambur and Vaniyambadi, is another hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. With the support of a Dalit party, Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi, they fundamentalists attempted to convert a building near the famous Jalakandeswarar Temple inside Vellore Fort as a mosque. The Communists supported the move, but Hindus thwarted the move by forcing the authorities to act.

In a place called Sathuvachari, the fundamentalist attempted to encroach government land and build a mosque there. This move was also thwarted by Hindu Munnani.

When the Tamil daily, Dinamalar, carried a news item regarding the famous Danish Cartoons episode, thousands of Muslims laid siege at its office and the daily was forced to apologise and express regret in the following issue.

When the Railway Police intercepted and apprehended some suspects taking 52 children from West Bengal and Bihar by train at Katpadi Junction for interrogation, hundreds of fundamentalists gathered at the railway station to protest. Inquiries revealed that the children were being taken to a madrassa in Kerala. Officials from the Children Welfare Committee came and conducted further enquiry. As more fundamentalists started gathering at the station, the State’s Reserve Police intervened and arranged for special compartments and sent the children and the caretakers to Kerala by another train. However, the Children Welfare Committee officials were helpless and regretted the release of the children who were transported without valid documents by the caretakers. Both the Police and Child Welfare Board appeared impotent.

Following the successive murders of BJP leader Dr. Aravind Reddy and Hindu Munnani leader Vellaiyappan, the functionaries of both the organisations have become vulnerable. As the Police have been found wanting, especially after the infamous Ambur riots, Islamic aggression continues unabated in the district.

Chennai

In December 2012, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath distributed handbills denigrating Hindu saint Vadalur Ramalinga Vallalar. When Hindu Munnani lodged a complaint with the Triplicane Police, they refrained from taking any action.

Mannady is notorious for jihadi activities. On 23 February 2014, jihadis molested a Hindu girl and assaulted her brother as well. When the city Hindu Munnani secretary Elango went to the local police station to lodge a complaint against the jihadis, his car was attacked and he was threatened. The police, instead of taking action against the jihadis, pleaded to Elango not to aggravate matters. Elango has given a detailed description of the incident in the documentary. The Police filed a petty case under Section 75 against the jihadis, so that they can get out with just a nominal fine.

In January 2014, jihadis attempted a murderous assault on Sri Vedantam, former International Working President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, when he was going to Washermanpet to inaugurate a few local units of VHP. He explains the inaction of police in the matter, in the documentary.

P. JainulabdeenJihadis attempted to unleash terror at the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair in 2014. Apprehended students, who intruded at the fair, were in possession of stall details, international debit cards, mobile SIM cards of other States, etc. The cadres of Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath immediately assembled near the vicinity of the fair and protested against the arrest of the three jihadi students.

The Hindu Munnani office at Chintadripet has been receiving “threat letters” quite often, and till date the police could not find out the culprits and solve a single case. The threats varied from threatening to liquidate the leaders of Hindu organisations to demolition of temples by bombs.

The documentary shows a clipping wherein, Jainulabdeen, President of Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, openly says that his organisation threw bombs at cinema director Mani Ratnam’s house (for showing Kashmiri terrorists in his film, Roja) and threatened Kamalhasan. Till date the Police have not taken any action against him.

Chennai city has borne the brunt of Islamic aggression (protests against movies such as Innocence of Muslims, Vishwaroopam, Thuppakki)  many times. Assaults and murders have also been committed by jihadis in Chennai and the city continues to be vulnerable.

Other districts

The documentary also describes jihadi activities in other districts such as Vizhupuram, Thirunelveli, Theni, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi, etc. It describes in detail activities such as murders, assaults, love jihad, conversions and training centers (“Arivagam”), encroachments of temple and public lands, besieging police stations and media houses, obstructing Hindu festivals and processions, unchecked construction of mosques disproportionate to their population, indulged in by jihadis. Arivagam claims to have converted and trained thousands of youth.

The documentary lists 26 organisations which indulge in all kinds of fundamentalist activities in the State. It establishes how the Government is pandering to jihadis by a policy of appeasement, and how the State Police have become ineffective and inefficient due to the policy of the Government.

(To be concluded…)

The complete district wise documentation of jihadi activities can be viewed on the video below, Youtube link: Tamil Nadu under Jihadi Siege – Part 2

13 – Tamil Nadu in the grip of Jihad – Thamizhchelvan

Ramanathapuram Collector & Police Official at Iftar Party

JournalistThe fundamentalists of Ramanathapuram have been supporting ISIS and Kashmiri separatist movements. The coastal area has fallen under the control of jihadis. Secret camps are conducted for giving weapons training. Rampant smuggling of gold, arms and narcotics has been happening with ease. … The Ramanathapuram coast is a security threat for India. – Thamizhchelvan

In its documentary on Jihad in Tamil Nadu released in February 2016, Hindu Munnani had earmarked a considerable portion to show how the district of Ramanathapuram has come under the spell of Islamic fundamentalism over the years.

Vaethalai, a small town in the district occupied an infamous spot in our history when the Muslims of the town protested against the celebrations of India’s independence in 1947. Vadivelu, a shopkeeper from Vaethalai says, “A few years ago, some Islamic fundamentalists unfurled the national flag upside down. They deliberately dump garbage around our Vinayakar temple and threaten us not to use loudspeakers during our bhajans in temples in the auspicious Tamil month of Markazhi”.

Politicians from the district have always been encouraging and supporting Islamic fundamentalists. In 2004, during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, the fundamentalists indulged in stone pelting and instigated riots under the supervision of a member of the State Assembly, who is now a Member of Parliament.

Chinnathambi, a local person from Pudhumadam area says, “On 16th of August 2006, the then Panchayat Chairman, along with his supporters, brought down the national flag and tied up footwears up above the flag pole”. He adds that Hindus in that village are discriminated in many ways.

Ramanathapuram: Press advertisement calling for space for construction of mosques

Devi Pattinam is another coastal hamlet dominated by the minority community. When one Zakir Hussain became panchayat president, local fundamentalists prevented Hindus from celebrating the traditional Dharma Muneeswarar temple festival in May 2013. A challenge was thrown at Hindus to celebrate the festival. Earlier, construction of a new mosque was facilitated strategically on the procession route. Local Hindus say that fundamentalists from outside areas were brought in to beat them.

Based on the complaint lodged by Hindus, the police formally apprehended just two juvenile boys and sent them to “reformation” school. Local Hindu women say they fear even going to bazaars as they are threatened quite often. They say that the local police are faithful to the fundamentalists.

Segu Naina held the post of panchayat chairman of a place called Thondi, which was a historically significant port. On his instructions, government authorities demolished a temple without the knowledge of Hindus, in order to construct a coastal police station. Although 120 acres of poromboke land is available near the temple, they unnecessarily demolished the temple which was located on just 3 cent land. The local villagers allege that Segu Naina had vowed to demolish all Hindu temples in Muslim-dominated Thondi. The police filed cases against the Hindus who questioned the demolition of the temple.

Fundamentalist activities increased manifold when Jawahirullah of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (political face of the Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazahagam, TMMK) was elected to the state assembly in 2011.

Another fishing hamlet, Periyapattinam, seems to be under the control of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). A local, named Pazhani, got converted as Mohammed Basheer and is now forcing Hindus of his locality, Mutharaiyar Nagar, to convert to Islam.

Ramanathapuram: Muslim youth get secret weapons training

Fundamentalist elements from various states like Assam, Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala were receiving weapons training in Periyapattinam. When the police caught them on 25 June 2012, all fundamentalist organizations indulged in a concerted agitation; the government yielded to their pressure and all extremists were released. The Arab-style mosque built in this nondescript hamlet is a classic example of Wahhabism getting entrenched in the state.

Thirupullani is a famous Hindu shrine located on the shores. It is a Ramayana heritage temple signifying the episode of Rama resting on grass (Dharba Sayana) contemplating ways and means of reaching Lanka. Ramachandran, a local person says, “The name board of the temple was smashed by fundamentalists on 20 February 2013 and the police didn’t take any action even after a complaint was registered”.

Another person, Durai says, “Fundamentalists from SDPI indulged in violence during Swami Vivekananda’s 150th year anniversary celebrations in a government school at Vannangadu near Thirupullani on 9 March 2013”.

Ramanathapuram : Warning boards by Jamaths directed at Hindus

Many coastal hamlets are under the spell of fundamentalism. The state government’s plan to form a separate taluk bringing all these villages under the same administration was not welcomed by the Hindus. Muslim jamaths have displayed “warning boards” banning outsiders—read Hindus—from entering their villages. These boards were removed by the police only after the issue got national attention after it was reported by the Delhi-based Daily Pioneer on 16 February 2013.

Tamil Muslim youth in ISIS t-shirts

The fundamentalist youth of Thondi displayed their association with the international terrorist organization ISIS by wearing T-shirts with ISIS logo. The photograph was posted on a Facebook page named Mukanool Muslim Media (Muslim Facebook Media), run by a foreign-based extremist named Sangai Ridwan.

Sangai Ridwan

This man, operating from the shadows, never reveals his identity even to his own brethren whom he tries to recruit for extremist activities. When the issue caught nationwide attention due to media reports, the state police filed an ordinary case and even justified it by saying that ISIS was not a banned organization. Meanwhile, fundamentalist organizations such as SDPI protested the police action and warned that the youth should not be arrested. The state police didn’t bother to investigate further.

SP Pattinam is a place near Thondi. On 10th October 2014, when a rowdy by name Syed Mohammed stabbed Sub Inspector Kalidas while trying to escape from jail, Kalidas fired in self-defense and the rowdy died. Muslim organizations took to streets and started attacking Hindus in the name of bandh. Their leaders demanded that  the government take action against police officer Kalidas. The State Government yielded to the pressure, suspended Sub Inspector Kalidas, ordered his arrest and sanctioned a solatium of Rs 5 lakhs to his family. Kalidas had to fight for more than a year to come out on bail.

Fundamentalists attacking temples seems to be a regular phenomenon in Ramanathapuram district. The documentary shows locals describing the attacks and bombings on temples such as Vallaba Vinayak temple at Sandhakadai (19.09.2012), Veerabhadra and Kannan temples (31.10.2012), Om Sakthi Vinayagar temple (21.09.2013), to name a few.

Swami Vivekananda landed on the shores of Ramanathapuram after delivering his historical speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. To commemorate the event, a lamp post was erected and it stands as a lasting memorial for the saint. Jihadis desecrate this lamp post regularly. Durai of Gnana Deepam Seva Sangam, which maintains the lamp-post, says, “Every year, during the occasion of Vivekananda Jayanthi, we would renovate it and the jihadis who visit the nearby mosque for prayers, desecrate it. Even if we identify the culprits and inform the police, they do not initiate any action”.

Apart from attacking temples, jihadis also indulge in encroaching temple lands. Armed with the documents obtained by RTI, advocate Ramamurthi of Hindu Munnani says, “Salim Mullah Khan the former district secretary of Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, has encroached upon the land belonging to Agni Veerabadreshwarar Temple situated near Ramanathapuram bus stand and has constructed houses and shops upon it. Even after getting the required documents through Right to Information Act and after petitioning the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department and the collector about the loot, no action is forthcoming”.

Disrupting temple processions, threatening temples not to use loud speakers, hiring spaces near temples on rent and conducting namaz there, are some of the activities being indulged in by jihadis to threaten or provoke Hindus. Unfortunately the police seem to support them as averred by local Hindus in the documentary.

Councillor Nagarajan says that government officers belonging to the community connive with the jihadis and help them encroach highways and poramboke lands. He says, “Municipal Commissioners Mujibur Rehman and Sirajudheen have helped a Muslim business house by name Maharaja Textiles, by allotting the government hospital complex as the parking space for the vehicles visiting their shops, apart from making the entire stretch as a ‘one-way’ stretch.”

The jihadis do not spare even the police, despite their being faithful to them. Kenikkarai police station located just outside the collectorate was attacked by jihadis on 2nd February 2014 for arresting a criminal, and a sub inspector grievously injured. Even while the officer was trying to control the mob, his jeep was torched. In spite of all this, the police recorded the incident as ‘accident’.

Ramanathapuram : Iftar party inside Keezhakarai Government Hospital

Government officers, taking cue from the Government, go to any extent for appeasing these groups. On 14 June 2014, the district police stormed into an RSS camp and arrested the cadres who were doing physical exercises and drill. The collector issued a show-cause notice to the concerned school for allotting its premises for an RSS camp. But the very same collector participated in iftar parties and other functions organized by extremist organizations like TMMK. Following the footsteps of their seniors, the junior staff of Keezhakarai government hospital turned their premises into a virtual fortress for Ramzan festivities and iftar parties.

Local holiday has been in vogue for the annual festivities of the famous Uttarakosa Mangai temple in Ramanathapuram, since the British era. The very same district collector cancelled that holiday in 2015. In 2014, he ordered removal of raksha threads worn by school students and audaciously justified his order by saying that it was done to put an end to the skirmishes happening between the students! When asked the reason for allowing minority students to wear their religious symbols, he reportedly said he would do as he pleased and challenged the Hindus to go to court against him.

M. H. Jawahirullah

The documentary says that the political parties have given the district on a platter to the fundamentalists. They have always placed Muslims as their candidates in elections and those candidates have invariably won. In 1996, it was Rehman Khan from DMK, in 2001 it was Anwar Raja from AIADMK, and in 2006 it was Hasan Ali from Congress-DMK combine, and in 2011 Jayalalithaa gave the seat to her ally MMK; its state president Jawahirullah contested and won. It may be recalled that Jawahirullah was formerly with SIMI and was one of the founder members of Al Ummah, which perpetrated the Coimbatore blasts in 1998. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mohammed Jaleel contested for DMK and Anwar Raja contested for AIADMK; Anwar Raja won.

The fundamentalists of Ramanathapuram have been vociferously supporting ISIS and Kashmiri separatist movements. Almost the entire coastal area has fallen under the control of jihadis. Secret camps are conducted for giving weapons training. Rampant smuggling of gold, arms and narcotics has been happening with ease. Palm groves and thorny bushes serve as excellent hideouts. Mosques with tall minars are being built at regular intervals along the coast.

These mosques serve as hideouts for militants who infiltrate from Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s ISI allegedly sends militants from Sri Lanka to India through this coastal belt. As Mannar province of Sri Lanka is Muslim-dominated, the ISI creates militant cells and they infiltrate through Ramanathapuram. The Tamilnadu-Kerala connection of jihadis is already thriving. And for the ISI, Ramanathapuram in the Bay of Bengal is like Malappuram of the Arabian Sea. The documentary asserts that the Ramanathapuram coast is a security threat for India.

(To be continued)

The above incidents and more on Jihadi activities in Ramanathapuram district can be seen in the following YouTube link: Ramanathapuram in Danger

 

 

12 – Tamil Nadu in the grip of Jihad – Thamizhchelvan

Hindu Munnani

JournalistSimilar to the documentation of 12 murders carried out by Islamic terrorists in Tamil Nadu, Hindu Munnani has also documented a few major assaults committed by jihadists. All these assaults are brutal in nature and intended to liquidate the victims. The documentary titled Jihadi Assaults In Tamil Nadu runs for about 40 minutes detailing a few incidents of brutal assaults (see video below). It also carries explanations given by the victims. – Thamizhchelvan

Anand (Mettupalayam)Mettupalayam

Mettuapalayam is a taluk of Coimbatore district situated on the way to Ooty.

Anandan was secretary of the Mettupalayam unit of the RSS when, on November 6, 2012, he was waylaid while returning home from work along with a friend on a two wheeler. He was attacked brutally at about 6.30 in the evening.

After admitting him to hospital, the police dished out the usual story that the assault was a fallout of a financial deal with one Syed Abu Tahir, who belongs to a fundamentalist organisation and had sent SMS messages saying that those belonging to Hindu Munnani and the BJP would be liquidated during Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.

However, Anandan testifies in the documentary that he had not known or seen any one by the name of Syed Abu Tahir and that he was attacked by two heavily built assailants. When the public protest against the police gained strength, they shifted their stand and said that the attack was a retaliatory one and not due to the fallout of a financial deal. Subsequently, during the identification parade, as the actual assailants were not present, the police let Syed Abu Tahir free, though there was a pending complaint against him by Hindus for sending threatening messages through SMS.

Three years have passed and the police are yet to find the assailants! Alleging that the attack on Anandan had turned out to be a dress rehearsal for future attacks and murders of many Hindu leaders, the documentary asks, “How shall one have confidence in a police force which does not have the will or intent to arrest an extremist? Will Anandan’s wife and children have to live in perpetual fear?”

Manjunath (Ooty)Ooty

On 14 April 2013, Manjunath, district secretary of Hindu Munnani, was removing the banners from the venue (near Raghavendra Temple) of the Tamil New Year celebrations organised by Hindu Munnani. As he was loading the banners and other materials on his auto, he was surrounded and brutally attacked by a group of fundamentalists. He was rushed to the Government Hospital in Ooty, from where he was sent to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital for specialised treatment. The police had later filed a case against him saying that he had spoken in a manner instigating communal hatred.

Manjunath says that he had not spoken so, and that the case had been foisted on him. He adds that he was arrested after recuperating from the hospital and that the Deputy Superintendent of Police promptly paraded him in front of Abdul Samad, the district president of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, to show that he had indeed been arrested. Subsequently, acting on Manjunath’s complaint, the police arrested five jihadists, while the attackers were more in number. Manjunath laments that the case foisted on him by the police had spoiled his livelihood.

Venkatraj (Conoor)Coonoor

The Ooty incident had a fallout in Coonoor. On 16 April 2013, when Hindu Munnani functionaries were pasting posters condemning the attack on Manjunath, persons from a nearby mosque objected. As talks were progressing, fundamentalists attacked Hariharan of Hindu Munnani. However, the police rushed to the spot and took the Hindu Munnani cadres away, divided them into small groups and dispersed them.

Later, when Hariharan and some Hindu Munnani cadres were proceeding to witness the chariot festival connected to the local Mariamman Temple, the sub-inspector of Coonoor police station directed them to take a particular route, where a large group of fundamentalists surrounded and attacked them. In the melee, Hariharan, Venkatraj and Jayakumar were severely beaten with bottles, surgical knives and knives. Venkatraj says a fatwa was already issued against Hariharan and Jayakumar and that the police were informed about it.

The significant aspect of the attack was the use of ‘surgical knives’ which is not a practice in Tamil Nadu. It is said that jihadists in neighbouring Kerala are deft in handling surgical knives. Hariharan says that a  Jayakumar (Conoor)couple of dozen jihadists from Kerala were roaming about in Ooty and Coonoor; Venkatraj adds that they have been brought by one Tasleem of Asian Hotel, to train local jihadists. Hariharan refers to a police official who was aware of the impending attack during the temple festival. Terming this planned jihadi attack a “retaliatory attack”, the police dutifully filed cases against Hariharan, Venkatraj and Jayakumar.

The documentary laments that the businesses of Hariharan and Jayakumar have suffered because of the police cases while Venkatraj is suffering without a job, the film asks, “What justice can be expected from this government which kills its conscience and declares a planned attack upon Hindus as a reactionary attack and diverts the case from the real motive?”

Ramanathapuram

On 7 June 2013, two school teachers, Vasanthakumar and Malairaj, belonging to the scheduled caste, were apprehended by fundamentalists for the “fault” of entering the Muslims’ street in R. S. Mangalam area of Ramanathapuram.  Both were taken to a mosque, tied up and beaten black and blue. After learning about this attack on the hapless school teachers, a group of local Hindus reached the mosque to catch hold of the culprits. As the culprits attempted to escape by an ‘ambulance’ belonging to the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, the Hindu group surrounded it. However, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, who came that way, made the Hindus disperse and let the fundamentalists escape.

Suba Nagarajan, a local person, alleges that the police are not seriously pursuing this case of assault on school teachers. Underlining the tacit understanding between fundamentalists and Scheduled Caste leaders, the documentary asks, “Why do the SC organisations, which raise voice over SC rights and SC freedom, not raise even a whimper of protest in support of these hapless teachers?”

M. R. Gandhi (Nagarkoil)Nagercoil

On 19 May 2013, senior BJP leader M. R. Gandhi was brutally attacked by jihadists while on his morning walk. As he got down from the road in the nick of time, the blow which was to have landed on his neck, missed by a whisker. However, the jihadists rained a few blows on him and ran away.

M. R. Gandhi says that those who assaulted him were well-trained and were from outside places like Thiruvithamcode, Idalakudi, Melapalayam and Tirunelveli. He says that terror training camps are active in places like Thittuvalai, Idalakudi, Thiruvithamcode and Madhavalayam of Kanyakumari district.

Finally, jihadists belonging to Tirunelveli district were arrested for attacking M. R. Gandhi in Nagercoil. We have already seen that men from Kerala joined the locals when they attacked Hariharan, Venkatraj and Jayakumar in Coonoor. Mentioning this, the documentary makes an important point that, “In every area, fundamentalists are given training and sent to carry out attacks in outside areas, while the local Moslems would act innocent and escape. This strategy is being adopted by the Muslim fundamentalists”.

Rajkumar (Chennai)Chennai

On 26 November 2014, RSS worker Rajkumar was waylaid and attacked by jihadists when going on his bike along Bangaru Naicken Street of Triplicane area in Chennai city. Thanks to his helmet, he escaped, but was hospitalised with grievous injuries.

“Rajkumar was attacked for questioning the molestation of a Hindu woman by a Muslim youth”, says a local person named Narahari. He adds, “A large number of Muslims from the local jamath have gathered in support of the youth and threatened the Hindus”. Another person, Manikandan, says that a local Muslim police official is not taking any action against the jihadists and is supportive of them.

Sameera Bano with husband Rajaraman and daughters (Nagercoil)Nagercoil

It is more than a decade since Sameera Bano, a Muslim girl, fell in love with Rajaraman, an auto driver, and married him. Despite the pressure exerted by Muslims to convert, Rajaraman refused and remained a committed Hindu. As a way of threatening him, the fundamentalists burnt down his auto near his house in the year 2010.

Unable to digest the fact that Sameera Bano was leading the life of a peaceful Hindu, the jihadists attempted to kill her. On 11 April 2014, when she was drawing rangoli in front of her house, they tried to attack her. She had a providential escape. As usual, the police are yet to arrest the jihadists!

Hindus (Thiruvithancode)Thiruvithamcode

The fundamentalists planned to ignite a communal problem by beating up a seventh standard student named Siva. When the issue was taken up by the elders, the fundamentalists broke the teeth of a youth named Subash. He was hospitalised.

The incident happened on 25 October 2013. When the small group of Hindus was returning from the hospital very early in the morning, they were suddenly surrounded and attacked by a group of fundamentalists near the Keralapuram Arch. Seven Hindus were hurt in the attack.

Veludoss, an advocate says, “knives were used and cuts were administered on the limbs.  Attacks like these are alien to Kanyakumari district”. Bhavani, a local woman says, “Some mysterious persons staying at Paaravalai were arrested and subsequently released. For the sake of money offered by the Moslems, police are indulging in such an atrocity with the complicity of politicians”.

The police pacified the Hindus after the attack on Subash and made them return home from the hospital. When a lady, Saroja, confronted the police saying, “We believed in your words and returned home. But, this has happened. We have been betrayed”, the police justified the attack stating, “You should have avoided taking them on”. Bemoaning this attitude, the lady says, “Police force has been muffled.”

A big question mark hangs over the heads of Hindus of Thiruvithamcode.

The documentary ends with the following questions:

Would many of those who have faced such attacks be able to return to work as before? These Hindus of humble means, who were earlier employed with Muslims, are now going for work as road workers, construction labourers and other menial jobs. Even to go for these menial jobs, how would the women be able to commute fearlessly?

Today, many parts of Tamil Nadu are turning into Taliban country like Thiruvithamcode. Whose responsibility is it to save Tamil Nadu from this perilous situation?

The documentary can be seen below.

(To be continued…)

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Jihadi Assaults in Tamil Nadu

5 – Temples, Elephants and Traditions – B. R. Haran

Neil Nitin Mukesh

B. R. HaranIt is an ugly fact that most of the … rules and regulations [to protect elephants] are violated with impunity and the various government departments are aware of it. It is unfortunate that the authorities are hand in glove with the violators in many places. … [and it] is causing immense damage to the welfare of elephants. – B. R. Haran

We have seen the unmitigated pain of captive elephants in temples and private places and the reasons behind it. It would be pertinent to know the details of illegalities and legal violations by the mahouts and the owners of captive elephants. The owners and mahouts of captive elephants violate several Acts, Laws, Notifications, Orders and Guidelines.

Illegal Possession of Elephants: As per Section 43 of Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, No person having in his possession captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale or by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal or article or trophy or uncured trophy”.

Elephant RajuHowever, most of the captive elephants have been sold and bought (including elephants bought by temples and mathams) violating Section 43. 

Outdated and Invalid Ownership Certificates: As per Point 1 of the Guidelines for Care and Management of Captive Elephants, issued by Project Elephant Division of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change,

All States/UTs would carry out a fresh survey of the captive elephants in their territory within a period of six months and report the number to the Ministry. All the captive elephants shall be micro chipped for which chips have been provided in adequate numbers to the States/UTs. Fresh ownership certificate should be issued in the form annexed for a period of five years and should be renewed every five years in case there is no violation of the norms to be followed”.

However, this law is observed more in the breach and several owners of captive elephants keep either an outdated or an invalid ownership certificate. 

Forcing Injured or Unfit Elephants to Work: Section 11-1-b of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 says, “If any person employs in any work or labour or for any purpose any animal which, by reason of its age or any disease, infirmity, wound, sore or other cause, is unfit to be so employed or, being the owner, permits any such unfit animal to be employed; he shall be punishable”.

Most of the captive elephants are either injured or wounded or diseased or terribly weak. But the owners and mahouts have been known to not only exhibit them in public places and functions, they have also been put to work.

Continuous Tethering and Chaining by more than One Foot:  Section 11-1-f of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 says, “If any person keeps for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably short or unreasonably heavy chain or cord; he shall be punished”.

Captive elephants are chained or tethered for more than 20 hours a day and many of them are chained by more than one foot with short and heavy oxidized chains. This violation happens in all places, with no exceptions.

Using Iron Ankush: The Rajasthan High Court has banned the use of iron ankush (goad). The order permits its usage only in extreme or dangerous situations that might result in danger to the public. The order explicitly says, “Only ankushes made from wood or bamboo or cane must be used to control the elephants. The metal ankushes carried by mahouts must not be visible to the elephants. They can be used only during extreme situations which could result in danger to the public”.

However, this order is being violated at will in many places and the mahouts do not hesitate to use iron ankushes which also have sharp bull-hooks at one end!

Mutilation: Section 11-1-a of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 says, “If any person beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes, or being the owner permits, any animal to be so treated; he shall be punished”.

The hairs (from tail and other parts of the body) of captive elephants are removed by using blades and razors and then sold in black markets where there is a huge demand for them. While removing the hairs, the mahouts and owners subject the elephants to utmost cruelty which ultimately results in injuries and sometimes even fracture and dislocation of tail bones, which are an extension of the elephant’s vertebra. These are gross but routine and pervasive violations of the above said section of PCA Act.

Not Arranging Free Access to Water and Nutritious Food:  Section 11-1-h of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 says, “If any person being the owner of (any animal) fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter, he shall be punished”. Also the Rajasthan High Court’s Order says, “The owner of the elephant or its contractor or hirer must provide sufficient potable water to the elephant preferably from a source of running water”.

As we have seen in many cases, potable water and nutritious food are not provided to captive elephants both in temples and those that are privately owned, which too is a gross violation of both PCA Act and Rajasthan HC’s order.

Blind ElephantHousing Conditions and Facilities: Section 42 of Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 says, “….. Provided that before issuing the certificate of ownership in respect of any captive animal, the Chief Wild Life Warden shall ensure that the applicant has adequate facilities for housing, maintenance and upkeep of the animal”. This is applicable to temples also. But in most places as we have seen in previous sections in this series, captive elephants are not provided with adequate facilities and conditions required for their proper housing, maintenance and upkeep.

Elephant chainedAlso, subsequent to the ban on elephants in zoos in 2009, the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting of Central Zoo Authority on “Elephant Upkeep in Zoos” held on 18 March 2013 gave permission to a few stakeholders (zoos) to keep elephants provided they adhere to the norms as specified by the Central Zoo Authority. The Authority specified a provision of not less than 1.2 acre of area for each elephant. This area is a minimum requirement for a Schedule 1 Wildlife animal like the elephant to behave naturally and lead a natural life.

But as far as captive elephants are concerned, they are provided with only cramped, ill-ventilated, dark and unhygienic, concrete shelters without proper drainage facilities. This again is a gross violation leading to enormous suffering of captive elephants.

Medical Care and Treatment: Section 3 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 says, It shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering”.

But in reality, as we have seen already, captive elephants suffer from cataract of the eyes (sometimes even blindness), wounds and abscesses (with blood and pus oozing out) on footpads, wounds on legs and body, weakness, obesity, diarrhea, arthritis, fractures and tuberculosis, etc. In some places such ailments result in the death of elephants. Captive elephants are not provided with the required medical care and treatment which again is a gross violation of law.

Records and Registers: As per the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants – Management and Maintenance – Rules 2011, every owner of the elephant shall maintain the following records and registers and such records and registers shall be produced before the officers authorized by Government in this behalf for inspection at such time as may be called for:

(a) Certificate of ownership Register.

(b) Health Register (1) Vaccination Record (2) Diseases and treatment Record 

(c) Movement Register

(d) Feeding Register

(e) Work Register

 (f) Health Registers of mahout and cavady (assistant mahout).

(g) Register of salary disbursement.

But, almost all owners of captive elephants are irresponsible in maintaining these records and registers. 

Violation of Rules at will: Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants – Management and Maintenance – Rules 2011 has prescribed various rules and guidelines for Possession of Elephants  (License or Ownership Certificate), Housing Conditions, Care of Elephants, Feeding of elephants, Workload for elephants, Mahouts and Cavadys, Norms and Standards for Transportation, Retirement of Elephants, Records and Registers, Cutting of Tusks, Acts which are tantamount to cruelty to elephants, Aged elephants, Welfare Committees and Dos and Don’ts for General Public.

However, it is an ugly fact that most of the above said rules and regulations are violated with impunity and the various government departments are aware of it. It is unfortunate that the authorities are hand in glove with the violators in many places. The corruption which has taken deep roots in Forest Department and other government bodies which own or are responsible for elephants, is causing immense damage to the welfare of elephants.

Cases in Courts

Chennai High Court extended the mandate of the Inspection Committee, constituted by it to inspect cows and goshalas in temples, to elephants also. Subsequently the inspection committee gave its reports to the High Court during subsequent court hearings in the case.

The issue of cruel treatment of captive elephants has been raised in public forums and cases have also been filed in various courts in states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. A case has been filed in Supreme Court also. Let us see some of the significant cases and court orders

Vinay KoreMaharashtra

Male elephant Sundar has been serving in Jyothiba Temple, Kolhapur, Maharashtra since 2007 when he was 8 years old. Sundar was donated to the temple by Vinay Kore, MLA. Sundar was unfortunate to get an inexperienced mahout, Jameel, who treated him very cruelly. The international animal rights organization, PETA, lodged a complaint with the forest department of Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, as the temple authorities received many complaints about Jameel, they removed him and appointed another immature 18-year-old mahout, Hyder Abu Bakkar, and an assistant mahout, Ateef. They also treated Sundar cruelly. Without nutritious food and proper medical treatment, Sundar continued to suffer.

Subsequently, officials of the forest department along with veterinarians visited Kolhapur and inspected Sunder in August 2012. They found that Sundar was weak; lost weight; had wounds and scars all over his body; a festering abscess near his ear caused by frequent use of the banned bull-hooked ankush; legs had wounds because of chains. They confirmed that Sundar was physically and psychologically abused and tortured by the mahout and his assistant. Thereafter, the Chief Conservator of Forests, Nagpur Division, was ordered to shift Sundar to the rehabilitation center in Karnataka. PETA offered to bear the transportation expenses. However, due to political pressure, the order was not implemented.

Officials from the Central Zoo Authority visited Kolhapur and inspected Sundar in October 2012. Their report was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which issued an interim order to shift Sundar to a rehabilitation center in Karnataka until final order was issued. Even after that, Sundar was not shifted.

Misusing his political clout, Vinay Kore took Sundar from Kolhapur to his private place in Varananagar. Sundar’s misery continued unabated.

As the two orders to shift Sundar were not implemented, PETA filed a petition in Mumbai High Court praying for an order to shift Sundar to Karnataka. It also prayed for stringent punishment for those officials who had not carried out their government’s orders.

In the meantime, PETA began a public campaign with celebrities like Paul McCartney, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Pamela Anderson, Arjun Rampal, Madhavan and Gulshan Grover, to create awareness about Sundar’s plight and put pressure on the authorities to act immediately to free Sundar from captivity.

Vinay Kore petitioned the High Court praying for the cancellation of orders. After hearing the case on 6 April 2014, the Bombay High Court ordered shifting of Sundar to the rehabilitation center in Karnataka and specified that the shifting must be done before the onset of monsoon.

Vinay Kore appealed against the order in the Supreme Court, but the apex Court upheld the High Court’s order on 21 May 2014.

Finally, Sundar was shifted to Bannarghatta National Park in Bengaluru. When he arrived at the national park, he was welcomed by about 13 elephants and they accompanied him to Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Now, Sundar’s injuries have begun to heal and his physical and emotional health shows improvement.

Karnataka

Bengaluru based CUPA (Compassion Unlimited Plus Action) petitioned the Karnataka High Court in February 2013, praying for prohibition of use of elephants in any form of begging, performance or procession; it also prayed to declare all NOCs and permissions given for transport of elephants to be used for such purposes as illegal and violation of Section 43 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Admitting the petition, the Karnataka High Court directed the concerned authorities to formulate rules and guidelines for such prohibition in consultation with all concerned in the matter.

In another case, initiating a suo motu Public Interest Litigation of a news report by The Hindu in 2008 that 25 elephants had died in six months around Bandhipur-Nagarhole National Park, the Karnataka High Court directed the authorities to submit a comprehensive report. Subsequently the government submitted a report and action plan titled “Elephant Landscape” on 11 March 2009. Then again it filed a comprehensive action plan for conservation and protection of elephants on 17 April 2009.

During subsequent hearings, the High Court constituted the Karnataka Elephant Task Force on 24 January 2012 with specific Terms of Reference. The task force submitted its report and recommendations in September 2012. Then on 8 October 2013, the High Court directed the government to take into consideration the recommendations given by the task force and act accordingly. It also ordered the government to implement the recommendations given by the task force for the welfare of captive elephants.

Madras High CourtTamil Nadu 

The Chennai High Court had a sitting on 22 July 2016, to hear the status reports of its committee constituted for the inspection of cows and elephants in temples. The committee was constituted after hearing the PIL filed by animal activist Radha Rajan.

Appearing for the petitioner Senior Advocate Sathish Parasaran argued, “The forest department must handover wildlife to temples only after ensuring that the temple authorities would be able to take care and manage them as per the Wildlife Protection Act. If micro chips are inserted in the body of elephants, their movements can be monitored. But the forest department does not have scanners. So, honourable High Court should direct the government to equip forest department with scanners and other needed equipments. The High Court should also order the government to constitute welfare committees to supervise the care and management of cows, elephants and calves in temples”.

Additional Advocate General P.H. Arvind Pandian, who appeared for the government, submitted that a state level committee had been formed as per the GO issued on 20 July, and that, it would take at least two months to form district-wise committees.

The plight of elephant Gomathi which is housed in Thiruvidaimaruthur Mahalingaswami Temple also came up for hearing. The HC bench heard the advocate who appeared for the temple management. After hearing arguments, the HC Bench gave the following directions:

Forest Department officials must ensure strict implementation of Indian Wildlife Protection Act. They should also check in person the care given to the temple elephants and how they are managed by the temple authorities. The micro chip aspect must also be looked into by the authorities.

Animal Welfare Board of India must inspect the present health condition of Thiruvidaimaruthur temple elephant Gomathi, and file a report.

The HC posted the case for further hearing to 7 October.

The direction given to the forest department with regards to the insertion of micro chips on elephants is very significant. The government can no more abdicate its responsibilities and should ensure that the forest department is equipped with scanners and other equipments.

Readers may recall the case of 58 years old captive elephant Lakshmi in Pazhani discussed previously. When Lakshmi was freed from captivity and shifted to a treatment center, the details found in the microchip were different from the details found in the ownership certificate produced by Lakshmi’s owner. While the ownership certificate bore one number of the microchip, the microchip in elephant Lakshmi when scanned, showed another number. This could mean only one thing. Elephant Lakshmi was not ‘Lakshmi’ because her owner had violated the Wildlife Act which bans trading in Wildlife and wildlife parts. Having bought the elephant illegally, this man also bought the ownership certificate issued by the Forest Department to another owner for another elephant. The original elephant had probably died but instead of informing the Forest Department of the death and surrendering the ownership certificate, this man sold it to Lakshmi’s owner, probably for a hefty amount.

Had the concerned licensing authority (Forest Department official) monitored all captive elephants in his district at least once in six months, this fraud of selling ownership certificates would be impossible.

One thing is clear—who is responsible for captive elephants—the central government, state government, forest department, HR&CE? No one seems willing to accept responsibility for captive elephants but all wish to use them abusively in human interest.

(To be continued)     

» B. R. Haran is a senior journalist in Chennai