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

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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: Arguments in favour of the ‘sport’ are untenable – Radha Rajan

Jallikattu Bull

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlineThe BJP and its supporters, who sparked and sustained the pro-Jallikattu protests, do not seem to take the very real dangers associated with the ‘sport’ seriously. – Radha Rajan

Blame for sowing the first seeds of the Occupy Marina protests in favour of Jallikattu must be laid squarely at the doors of three senior leaders of the Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party. But the crowning glory of nullifying the visionary May 7, 2014 Supreme Court order banning Jallikattu—reducing to dust 40 years of effort to petition the legislature to ban all sports using bulls as objects of entertainment and hammering the last nail in the coffin of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 by rushing through an amendment to facilitate Jallikattu—rightfully belongs to the BJP government at the Centre. Given that 10 people, including a policeman on duty, have died, that several bulls have been injured while one terrified bull running for its life died after falling into a quarry following the resumption of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, that two bulls died during Jallikattu in Andhra Pradesh, and that hundreds of spectators have been injured, questions are now being raised about why well-known people like Sri Sri Ravishankar, Jaggi Vasudev, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and journalist S. Gurumurthy are vocal in their support for this blood-sport.

Political observers understood the significance of students entering the fray in favour of Jallikattu, which overnight became an issue of “Tamil pride”. Even if on day one the campaign could be projected as a revolutionary student movement for Jallikattu, by day two it was no longer about the “sport” but about Tamil identity politics.

BJP leaders in the state said that if the people of Tamil Nadu chose to disregard the May 2014 Supreme Court order banning Jallikattu, the party would stand firmly with the people; one of them even let loose the bulls on his farm in what he proclaimed was a traditional bull-run. Not to be left behind, and taking their cue from the ruling party at the Centre, the two major Dravidian political parties and several Tamil-chauvinist political groups jumped into the fray, also extending support to people if they chose to defy the Supreme Court order. What the BJP should have foreseen but did not, or what the BJP saw but did not comprehend, was that within 48 hours of the Occupy Marina campaign, the mass mobilisation allegedly for Jallikattu became a massive show of strength to bring the state and central government to their knees; it succeeded even beyond their wildest expectations. The BJP government in Delhi and the state unit of the “party with a difference” came to their senses when posters of Prabhakaran of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and posters with secessionist slogans—besides slogans and posters against Modi—began to be openly flaunted on Marina beach.

It was too late by then for any political party to disown the movement without burning their fingers. Neither the central government nor the state government, much less the state unit of the BJP, were in any position to douse the fire they had lit with such cynical disdain for the law and rule of law.

When the president of India, on advice from the BJP central government, gave his assent to the Tamil Nadu amendment to the PCA Act, he was only defusing an out of control crisis threatening to explode on the people of Tamil Nadu. But the question is, at what cost? The Modi sarkar, by advising the president to give assent to the amendment, has further weakened an already weak law—the only law in this country to protect animals from human depredation.

The end result of Occupy Marina

In the wake of Sasikala’s conviction by the Supreme Court, Subramanian Swamy has been exulting in the judgment pronounced by Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Amitava Roy. On one channel, he observed with satisfaction that the order proved that not all judges are corrupt. He added that the February 14, 2017 judgment was brilliantly articulated and would henceforth be considered a landmark judgment against corruption in public life. The irony of it! Swamy and friends are oblivious or impervious to the fact that by expressing public support for Jallikattu and lobbying for it with the central government, they demolished another brilliantly and sensitively articulated judgment delivered by the same Justice Ghosh with Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan on May 7, 2014.

When the true face of Occupy Marina could no longer be kept under wraps or swept under the carpet, the state government and BJP central government adopted the carrot and stick method to end it: the state government tasked the police to vacate the occupiers of the beach in readiness for Republic Day while the BJP central government used the office of the president to facilitate what the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette Extraordinary describes as “An Act to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 so as to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu and to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breeds of bulls.”

The Tamil Nadu amendment to the PCA says:

28-A. Saving in respect of ‘Jallikattu’—Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to ‘Jallikattu’ conducted to follow and promote tradition and culture and such conduct of ‘Jallikattu’ shall not be an offence under this Act.

  1. (1) The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 is hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any action taken under the principal Act, as amended by the said Ordinance, shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the principal Act, as amended by this Act.

This is precisely what politicians and spiritual gurus have said in support of Jallikattu, citing examples which insult our intelligence.

Untenable arguments in support of Jallikattu

Argument #1: Jallikattu is Tamil pride, Tamil culture and the cultural heritage of the state of Tamil Nadu

Not long ago (and practiced even now in certain parts of Tamil Nadu), widows had to shave their heads, give up coloured clothes, not participate in celebratory functions and rituals, and live the rest of their lives in seclusion. Girl children were married before puberty, before they could understand the institution of marriage and motherhood, and before their bodies were ready for childbearing. Women were forced to commit sati, pay dowry and submit to being “inspected” by the potential groom and his family. Not long ago, we did many things, good, bad and ugly. The bad and ugly have been given up altogether or are dying a slow death. Jallikattu, which traumatises animals and kills and maims both animals and humans, even if it is culture, tradition and heritage, must be given up like we gave up child marriage, sati and perpetual widowhood.

Argument #2: To ensure the survival and well-being of native breeds of bulls

Bulls running away in terror and jumping into wells and quarries, being knocked to death by speeding trains or fracturing their limbs is hardly well-being, much less survival. Let us return to spiritual leaders Sri Sri Ravishankar and Jaggi Vasudev, and to Swamy and journalist Gurumurthy. These four individuals have their own spheres of influence in society and may possibly have some influence with the BJP central government. They all know that not just Tamil Nadu but all of India is rich in native breeds of cattle. They also know that native cattle breeds differ from one another in various ways. If we accept the argument that Jallikattu is the only way to ensure the well-being and survival of native breeds of cattle, then what is the fate of those native breeds which are unfit for Jallikattu? And significantly, how will the BJP central government ensure the survival of native breeds in north India, where there is no Jallikattu at all? In Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, there is no tradition of Jallikattu or anything even remotely resembling it.

There are some individuals, Jallikattu supporters, who run animal farms exclusively for Kangeyam bulls. Ravishankar also has several well-kept native breed cattle in his ashram. His Art of Living Foundation and Vasudev’s Isha Foundation must now invest in setting up similar animal farms across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to encourage the survival of Bargur, Umblachery, Pulikulam and Alambadi breeds of native cattle, at least two farms for every breed. If Swamy would see the wisdom of persuading his fans spread across the country and outside to come to India and invest in animal farms to breed and protect native breeds, if journalist Gurumurthy could invest time to write consistently and persistently about the need to set up animal farms and his influence with Hindu spiritual leaders, there would be no need for the Jallikattu fig-leaf argument to ensure their survival.

In the north we have the Red Sindhi, Gir, Tharparkar, Hariana and Sahiwal to name just five native breeds. How are spiritual leaders and the BJP government in the Centre going to ensure their well-being and survival, considering there is no Jallikattu in the north of India except for buffalo fights in Assam?

I will conclude by dealing with two examples cited by Swamy and Jaggi Vasudev for why Jallikattu should not be banned. Swamy has been saying—and he smiled when he said it—that people die and are maimed for life or injured in road accidents and by speeding vehicles. Even Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said the same thing in the Supreme Court. If we do not ban vehicles, why ban Jallikattu? When people die in road, rail, water and airplane accident, reckless driving and human negligence is punished by our courts and victims get compensation. Can Swamy and friends dismiss just as lightly the death of a policeman on duty who was killed by a bull fleeing in fear and terror? And how is the bull that is maimed or killed during Jallikattu to be compensated?

Vasudev cited the example of cricket. The spiritual leader is supposed to have remarked that players are often injured and sometimes even killed when playing cricket. But we do not ban cricket. Not just cricket, players are killed or are injured in any contact sport—football, soccer or boxing. The critical difference being, these are humans who know what they are doing and also know the risks involved in the sport. They nevertheless choose to do what they are doing. Bulls do not choose. Animals are not obliged to uphold human culture, tradition or heritage. Bulls do not choose to be terrorised and abused.

Activists and spiritual leaders should use their influence and resources to look for more sensible and compassionate ways to protect native breeds of cattle, and educate society to give up practices which are not just contretemps but cruel and discriminatory. – The Wire, 17 February 2017

» Radha Rajan is a Chennai-based animal rights activist.

Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution.

 

 

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

A textbook case of Indian history howlers – Michel Danino

Modified History Cartoon

Prof Michel DaninoHumans thus evolved near Cape Comorin in Lemuria—not in Africa as we thought—and spoke Tamil right from the beginning. I have no problem with a mild dose of national or regional pride, but this planetary jingoism boggles the mind. – Prof Michel Danino

As a nation, we often take pride in our history, yet in my decade-long interactions with Indian students and teachers, I have rarely found any in love with the discipline. Rather, comments like “I hate history” or “History is so boring” sum up the general feeling. You are likely to share it if you open the latest history textbook prescribed for Class VI in 2010–11 by the Tamil Nadu government under its “common syllabus”.

Let us begin with the Indus or Harappan civilisation, Chapter 2. On a map, an important Harappan site, Kalibangan, is shown inside Pakistan instead of northern Rajasthan (has Pakistan encroached on Indian land?); another site, Rupar, is placed right on the international border, while it is close to Chandigarh. The text informs us that “Harappa in Sindhi means ‘Buried City’,” even though Harappa is in Punjab, not Sindh, and its etymology is unknown. Harappan cities were so sophisticated that they boasted “street lights”—certainly a world first! Another gem: “The terracotta planks discovered here were engraved with letters”—as a student of archaeology, I confess my ignorance of what a “terracotta plank” might be; perhaps this is a garbled reference to Dholavira‘s famous three-metre-long inscription, consisting of crystalline material set in a long-vanished wooden board. Curiously, Dholavira, one of the five largest Harappan cities, and the second largest in India, figures nowhere. Apparently, our textbook writers rarely believe in updating their knowledge.

Among the five reasons given for the decline of this civilisation, the first is nonsensical: “Wooden articles would have got destroyed by fire,” as if that could have finished a whole civilisation. The second is sheer fancy: “Rivalry because of the civil war.” The fourth—“The Aryans would have destroyed these towns in order to succeed” (succeed whom or in what is unclear)—was rejected by archaeologists over 40 years ago, and so has the fifth: “The heap of bones discovered in Mohenjo-daro is evidence of the invasion of the foreigners,” especially as there is no “heap of bones” anywhere, only a few scattered skeletons which belong to different epochs. The third reason alone—a change in the course of the Indus—is among the accepted factors, but is poorly expressed and quite incomplete.

Let us turn to Chapter 4, “The Vedic Period”, which opens with the arrival of the Aryans around 1500 BCE—a highly disputed colonial theory presented as hard fact. It adds piquant details: Aryan men, besides dhotis and shawls, wore turbans and had “bands on their foreheads”, an awkward and wholly fictitious combination. The Congress (I) will be delighted to learn that among other gods, the Aryans worshipped “Indira” (instead of Indra; another is “Varna”, instead of Varuna). A table summarises the “qualities of Dravidians and Aryans” in two neat columns of nine points, the first of which attributes to “dark complexion, medium height, dark long hair”, and to the Aryans “fair, tall and brown hair”. Clearly, we shall never move away from the racial theories of the colonial era, even if they stand wholly discredited in the light of modern anthropology and genetics.

The other eight points take it for granted that the Dravidians were the authors of the Indus civilisation, a theory that has been around for decades but has few takers among archaeologists. That the Dravidian / Ex-Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi: He is the self-proclamed chief of the fictional Dravidian race.Aryan contrast is viewed as purely racial is confirmed by the complete absence of a linguistic comparison, the only legitimate one today. In fact, there is no mention of Sanskrit; our Class VI student shall never learn that such a language existed, in conformity with the anti-Sanskrit stance of the Dravidian movement

Tamil, by contrast, receives much attention. In fact, Chapter 3 on “Ancient Tamil Nadu”, judiciously placed before “The Vedic Period”, presents as fact the legend of the Kumari Kandam, a mythical land south of India, where the first two of the three Sangams flourished before the land was swallowed by the sea (to appear more credible, the textbook uses the word “tsunami”, unaware of the fact that a tsunami swallows no land). This occurred “before prehistoric period” and “this land mass was eight to ten times bigger than South India,” complete with “wide ranges of mountains”, “civilised people and efficient kingdom” (excuse the broken English). So we had civilisation even before prehistory!

The textbook goes on to identify Kumari Kandam with the equally mythical lost continent of Lemuria, and asserts that “conditions were favourable for the growth of living organisms only at Cape Comorin which was submerged after the tsunami…. Because of this the evolution of man would have taken place then. The language spoken by those people was the basic of Tamil language.” Humans thus evolved near Cape Comorin in Lemuria—not in Africa as we thought—and spoke Tamil right from the beginning. I have no problem with a mild dose of national or regional pride, but this planetary jingoism boggles the mind.

There is more. Lemuria was a “big land mass connecting Africa and Australia” and was so-called after “the monkey Lemur”—but lemurs are not monkeys. Never mind, “it was believed that human beings evolved from the Lemurs. The language of the people was ancient Tamil”—in case you had forgotten. As regards humans being descended from Lemurs, this is a momentous discovery that will call for rewriting textbooks on human evolution. On geology, too: the super-continent of the Southern hemisphere, which is thought to have included South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Australia and Antarctica, is called Gondwana—not Lemuria—and broke up some 200 million years ago, according to current research. Compare this with two million years of human evolution, and the absurdity of a Lemur-descended, Tamil-speaking early humanity ought to be plain enough.

Legends and myths are wonderful windows on the ancient mind in any culture. But to present the Kumari Kandam tradition as a scientific finding (adding spicy details that figure nowhere in the Sangam literature) would be like asserting that Rahu’s swallowing of the sun during eclipses is the latest in astronomy.

There are more howlers in following chapters (we learn that “to attain the spiritual goal the Jains starved”; moreover, “they eliminated clothes”), but the above examples will suffice to illustrate the abysmal incompetence of some of our textbook writers. Remember, in most Tamil Nadu schools, students will not be allowed to move on to the next class unless they have mugged up this farrago.

Better textbooks (such as those published by NCERT) do exist, but are not free either from errors, confusion and lingering colonial stereotypes. In this Internet age, perhaps it is time, as forward-looking educationists suggest, to move beyond a textbook-centric education and make creative use of a variety of materials. This may involve some trial and error, but it cannot do worse than the above kind of disgraceful material. — The New Indian Express, Chennai, Oct. 19. 2010

» French-born Prof Michel Danino is a lifelong student of Indian civilisation and culture. He has lectured at IIT Gandhinagar. Email: micheldanino@gmail.com

Kumari Kandam

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