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Two murders that could convert the narrative of Vengara bypoll, but won’t

Vengara is feeling a bit of the heat, especially when a fierce bypoll campaign has just concluded on its soil. The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA P K Kunhalikutty vacated the seat to contest a Lok Sabha election.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Vengara | Updated: October 10, 2017 11:33 am
Vengara bypoll, Kerala bypoll, Vengara elections, IUML, RSS, CPM, BJP, Kerala news, Indian Express Anil Kumar had converted to Islam from Hinduism in the summer of 2016. (File Photo)

The ‘murders’ don’t figure in official campaign speeches or party manifestos. Nobody talks of them publicly. Yet, they remain eerily in the air, in huddled off-the-record conversations, in whispers inside thatched tea shops and drawing rooms in Vengara, Kerala.

Anil Kumar, who had converted to Islam from Hinduism in the summer of 2016, came down from Saudi Arabia later that year, and managed to convert his wife and three children. However, in November, days before he could convert his mother, he was hacked to death near Kodinji in Malappuram district. A number of RSS workers and relatives of Kumar, now Faisal, were arrested in connection with the case. They had expressed unhappiness over his decision to convert.

Vipin Das, the second accused in the case who was out on conditional bail, was found dead by the roadside in Tirur in Malappuram, earlier this year. His killing was estimated, by many, as a retaliation to Faisal’s murder. In September, two men associated with the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) were arrested by the police.

Vengara, an hour away from the sites of these two communally-charged murders, is feeling a bit of the heat, especially when a fierce bypoll campaign has just concluded on its soil. The constituency, with a size of 1.7 lakh voters, is essentially a fortress of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which has had an iron grip on the district and the region’s Muslim population for decades. The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA P K Kunhalikutty vacated the seat to contest a Lok Sabha election which he went on to win.

While few contest the IUML’s absolute dominance over Vengara and the larger Malappuram district, religious tempers are frayed especially with parties like the SDPI pitching itself into the election fray and RSS becoming more active. Big leaders of the IUML may dismiss the vote-garnering abilities of the SDPI, but there is talk of more youth getting ‘radicalised’ and ‘brain-washed’.

Vengara bypoll, Kerala bypoll, Vengara elections, IUML, RSS, CPM, BJP, Kerala news, Indian Express The bye-election is scheduled on October 11 and the votes will be counted on the 15. (Express Photo/Vishnu Varma)

“While SDPI claims authority over the Muslim community, RSS claims to be the protector of Hindus,” said a CPM leader based in Vengara. “Religious propaganda is being spread here. They are brainwashing innocent young men.”

Even as the murders of Faizal and Vipin find space only in hushed whispers during the campaign, they were raised and intensified by immediate protests and dharnas by all parties as they happened. A probe into both cases is underway by the state police.

“BJP strongly stands against forced religious conversions. Peace here is maintained under the guise of threat,” said K Narayanan Master, the party’s election committee general convenor, pointing fingers at the IUML. “We need peace and stability. We are a responsible party working towards that goal,” he added.

For the Muslim League, a victory in Vengara is a foregone conclusion. What matters is the margin of that victory. For its claims of a secular party to stand rooted, it knows it cannot splinter its votes either to the SDPI or the BJP. Even as the League battles the prospect of the SDPI and the BJP rearing its heads, it has to contend with a bigger challenge from the CPM-led LDF, looking out for the same share of the growing Muslim vote-pie.

“In the last Lok Sabha bypoll, SDPI did not contest. Their workers came out on the streets to campaign for Kunhalikutty. In the Assembly election, SDPI came out in the last round to create polarisation. They brought out their venom-induced campaign. Muslim League benefits from the activities of the SDPI. They have to answer for this,” said TV Rajesh, CPM legislator from Kalliassery.

Whether the murders of Faizal or Vipin will create any impact in Vengara will be known on October 15 when the ballot boxes open for counting, but their brutal killings have indeed left their mark in the socio-political equations of this tense region in Malabar.

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  1. C
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:16 pm
    Why this guy converted to a extremist/terrorist/Jihadist religion like Islam. So conversion from Hinduism to other religion to be banned immediately. In many countries like PAk/Saidu Arabia/Iran the opposite law was enforced many years back and forced conversion is happening in Muslims countries like the barbaric/brutal policy of Islam for last 1400 years. So, why anti conversion law is not possible in India. Where's the problem?
    1. A
      Oct 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm
      Prohibition of Idol Worship in Yajurveda "There is no image of him. He is unborned and He should be worshipped" (Yajurveda, Chapter 32, Verse 3) "god is bodyless and pure" (Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 8) "They are entering darkness, those who worship the natural things(like air, water, fire etc.they are sinking more in darkness who worship created things." (Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 9) Prohibition of Idol Worship in Upanishad "There is no likeness of him" (Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 4, Verse 19) "His form cannot be seen, No one can see him with the eyes" (Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 4, Verse 20) Monotheism in Upanishad "God is one and only, not a second" (Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6, Section 2, Verse 1) "Of him (God), there is no parents, no Lord" (Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 6, Verse 9) Monotheism in Vedantha "There is only one god, Not a second one, not at all, not at all, not in a least bit" (Brahma Sutra) . Now Ask your self now...Am I a true Hindu ?
      1. Employ Ment
        Oct 10, 2017 at 11:42 pm
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        1. J
          Joseph Mumbai
          Oct 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm
          How dare Hindus are killed in Kerala. Where are the Hindu militant groups. It's time Islamic militancy and terrorist are eliminated in Kerala. If it's okay for Muslims to convert then why not convert Muslims to Hinduism. By force and enticement if need be. Hindus stop being tolerant and weak. Muslims are fanatics and intolerant.
          1. A
            Oct 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm
            Joseph Sanghi , you are a Sanghi Product made by Cow Pee and dongue.
            1. V
              Oct 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm
              What did you find objectionable in what Joseph said ? Can’t Muslims convert to Hinduism ? Can’t Hindus defend themselves against Muslim militancy and conversion practices ? Be objective and don’t use filthy words
            2. J
              Jai hind
              Oct 12, 2017 at 12:19 am
              Nirthi poda vargeeya vadhi poori mone
              1. V
                Oct 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm
                HOw is it varghiya vadham if we say Hindus should Ben protected ? If Muslims can convert Hindus why not Hindus convert Muslims anything wrong ?
              2. T
                Oct 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm
                It wasn't forced and Islam never stops or kill any one from converting or converted ... LoL u are wrong Joseph I are the one who spew venom in almost all national newspaper ..... Especially for a personal reason .. I don't want to write the reason here ...
                1. V
                  Oct 14, 2017 at 6:53 pm
                  So what the Muslims countries giving pardon to murderers if they convert as Muslim? What did the murderius muslim invaders did to India when they attacked ? What did Tipu sultan did in Kozhikode please read .. also find out how the hindu population reduced from 25 to 3 in Pakistan
              3. Suleel Shetty
                Oct 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm
                I want to start my own idealogy religion.. will go to forest write down some rules regulation how people need to leave a life.. will come out print a book on the idealogy... then will search for most poorest working class sect of people... will tell them what his wrong going on with them... will announce that God informed this regulations it's better u follow this u will be blessed well... that same sect will double in a decade with me has they r leader.... oh man I started a new religion.. tell them to convert everyone near thier homes by any means...which is the only wa our number will grow... for immediate majority would say my followers to mate more make childrens more... haha I just became a legend...
                1. S
                  Oct 10, 2017 at 5:07 pm
                  let try this then you will understand that nothing work in this way. any religion or ideology need strength and appealing to be popular. Before you go to form new religion, my advice, go to read all religion by its original scripture, think over it, analyze the purpose of life, the purpose of creation of the universe, compare the base of different religion then you decide what you should do. After getting so much knowledge about religion, you will be surely in position to take right decision. it is tragedy of modern world that a person check all aspects (price, quality, color, design etc) of purchasing even shoe, or t. shirt or watch but the same person blindly support to the ideology he/she got by birth. How funny he/she never think or analyze whether the ideology he got from childhood is true, logical and beneficial for both life or not, is it man made or Lord made, is it going to serve entire humanity for ever or not ? my best wishes for you to form new religion or find true religon
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