Opinon By Umar Faruk
On February 5, former PMK functionary Ramalingam (42) was hacked to death by a murderous gang. Earlier that day he encounters Muslims preaching Islam to dalit people. Under influence of hindu fronts anti conversion campaigns, he intervenes muslims preaching asking his accomplice to take video of his intervention. In three minute clip, one could see that there were neither heated exchange nor any altercation but within three minute Muslim people quietly assuage his concern and every one disperse quietly. Later that night a group of men coming out of car stopping the vehicle of Ramalingam and attacks him. His son who was with him at the time of attack says to media that unknown men stopped our vehicle and tried to attack him. ”My father intervenes and got deep cut in arm yet he fought the attacker and again they made another deep slay in another arm. As he got two deep cut in both arms, attackers sped away the place”. He took his father to private hospital which turned down treatment and later to government hospital which too denied his treatment asking him to move to district hospital. Finally with severe blood loss and denial of treatment for hours Ramalingam succumbed to injury. Soon after his death sangh parivar organisations started their anti Muslim campaign that hindu man trying to stop dalit conversions to Islam was murdered by muslim extremists. All main stream media from local to national level joined the chorus as murderous group hacked former PMK party member to death following altercation with minority religious proselytizing group. National media jumped in with associating popular front of India name. In Tamil Nadu, PMK boss Ramados issued statement saying Ramalingam was murdered for trying to stop muslim conversion activity. Within a day police arrested 5 members who were seen in that video taken by Ramalingam while intervenes muslims preaching. Police calling those people for questioning later charged them with UAPA act and declared to media that suspects involved in murder were arrested. National media along with sangh parivar groups started naming popular front behind attack as police arrested includes members of popular front group. Popular front of India, condemning the arrest of innocent people says in press note that real murderers behind death of Ramalingam who had many political parties affiliation and seven criminal charges in police station owing to business feud has to be arrested. Condemning the hindutva groups which is striving for large scale communal violence in Tamil Nadu and spreading malicious anti muslim campaign particularly against popular front, press note urges state to take appropriate action against them. Press note also asked police to do impartial investigation into the murder of Ramalingam and to resist undue political pressure. Despite media reproducing police narration unquestionably with major newspapers publishing the names and photos of five innocent muslims as murder suspects, liberals started the debates of ‘intolerant’ muslims. Hindutva groups are unhappy with some media outlets for not naming popular front group started unleashing hindu victim campaign across online platforms again. As again all muslims and their political allies are put under obligation to condemn the murder and respond to each groups.(fuck you all we have lot of works)
Though large scale violence is so far absent here though attempted by BJP and sangh parivar groups probably letting Tamil Nadu BJp friendly AIADMK government state budget to pass smoothly, institutional structural violence against muslims surfaces time and again reminding that Tamil Nadu being no exception.
Here in this case too, media deliberately ignores crucial evidence where Ramalingam son says to media that his father while taken to hospital confided to police that his killers are “known one. Our people” .In same video he clearly mentions a name Rasudevan which he says his father uttered , at the end he repeat the name Rasudevan with sound like Rasudeen and media editing the clip shows only the last part. All mainstream media joining the hindutva chorus that religious conversion feud led to murder none of them bother to telecast or publish muslim groups which deny the charges. Declaring the arrested people as suspected murderers hardly any media follows the news or apologies if when arrested people were later proved as innocents in court. These entire media trail serves one purpose that is to keep the image of bearded Muslims or preaching activity as criminal to the eyes of public. Reportedly UAPA charges are invoked it will take years to prove innocent in the court of law.
Frustrated with drawing zero seats since 2004, sangh parivar groups follows two strategies to assert its presence. hindu victimization sentiments and injecting hinudtva to caste parties and poll alliances. With alliances of democratic forces, so far tamil nadu successfully built a strong resistance against sangh parivar yet this resistance can get weaken if one fails to understand the structural violence against muslims. Hardly any public meeting or posters of sangh parivar groups goes without communally provocative statements or violence mostly under the protection of police yet it always requires huge democratic campaign and legal struggle from muslim communities to get it booked under law. Whereas any suspect of involvement of muslim groups will get disproportionate charges with unprecedented swiftness from police secondly tagging communalism easily to muslim outfits imposing impeccable secular standard exclusively to muslim parties whereas no such scrutiny to any self proclaimed secular party .added to this, media giving normal political space to rabid sangh parivar criminals such as Arjun Sambath, H. Raja etc. Despite being proven to be criminal track records. Thus anti muslim propaganda continues to sip into majoritarian thoughts with hindu victimization propaganda..
For more than a decade, every year sangh parivar groups under the pretext of Vianayga Chaturthi rally indulged in violent attacks on muslims vandalizing public properties and mosques with police impunity .It is after a decade state government came up with restrictions which sangh parivar dubbed into hindus victimization. Muslims exercised maximum restraint by not reacting to any of this sporadic yet systematic violence of sangh parivar. Keeping this violence as ‘trap’, muslim outfits respond with muted legal campaign so as to deny undue attention and polarisation attempt of sangh parivar. Though keeping the question of sangh parivar violence out of electoral discourse as good strategy to deny political space to sangh parivar but it stoop too low that even democratic campaign against sangh parivar such as organizing protest or rally mostly forming an alliance with Periyarist, Ambedkarist and other democratic forces are dubbed as ‘communal’ . At many times mainstream secular forces rather than exposing sangh parivar’s hindu victimization propaganda, in attempt to appease ‘hindu’ votes, chose to take up polished line of sangh parivar thereby giving legitimacy to it. Here too, Mk Stalin leader of dmk, tweeted that people who murdered Ramalingam were arrested by police and court shall expedite the case so as to deliver justice.
Unlike sangh parivar groups which enjoys state impunity for its criminal activities ,muslims political parties has been put under constant police surveillance and many times even trivial democratic right such as flag hoisting has to go to courts to exercise it. One should remember this renewed campaign comes at the time when popular front preparing for its celebration of its founding day with unity march and flag hoist events in next week which again as usual faced legal hurdles and court intervention. Logically it would be silly on part of the organisation to get involved in this murder inviting more legal trouble. Overcoming sangh parivar violence and police witch hunting with democratic struggle, muslim parties which is under represented in media and politics is striving for mainstream political space in an attempt to end institutional biases and violence.
It is imperative for all democratic forces which imagine oppression free society to stand for right of autonomous political space to muslims political outfits irrespective of difference. Not only one take innocent until proven guilty stand which is legal obligation, here one should also spell out disproportionate legal violence even if proven guilty. Remaining mute spectator to institutional legal violence is not neutral rather it is a calculated strategy to continue deny autonomous muslim politics from mainstream space.
Revoke and repeal UAPA act. End custodian torture. Release five innocent people Riaz(27), Nizam ali (33), Azaruddin (26), Rizwan (23) and Sarfudeen (60). Do impartial investigation.
(Writer is a research scholar at HCU)