A Malayalam writer who had written newspaper editorials on Hindu-Muslim unity has been threatened that he should either convert to Islam within six months or be ready to face the punishment meted out to infidels. In a different case, a woman college professor who had spoken favourably about M F Husain’s Saraswati painting has been attacked on social media and threatened with acid attack. Police on Friday registered cases and began investigation.
K P Ramanunni, the Malayalam writer, said he received the threat in a letter that said: “Get converted to Islam. We are giving you six months’ time. You cannot hide in the…granary at your house for long. Get ready to offer namaaz five times a day and observe fast. Otherwise, we would execute the punishment meant for infidels. Your articles would deviate the people from the path of faith.”
Ramanunni, who lives in Kozhikode, had written a six-part series in the edit page of the Madhyamam daily on the necessity of Hindu-Muslim harmony. The daily is run by the Jamaat-e-Islami, a Muslim religious organisation in Kerala.
The articles had said Muslims should not view Hindus as their enemies. It said religious extremism was a product of colonial forces. The articles called for a concerted movement of Hindus and Muslims in the “age of a violent neo-liberalism”.
Ramanunni said: “The articles were written with a genuine interest aimed at fostering religious harmony. The series, published last month during Ramzan, were widely appreciated.”
The writer said he got the threat letter six days ago and handed it over to the Kozhikode city police. Ramanunni said the letter threatened that he would face consequences like professor T J Joseph, whose right hand was chopped off by a gang in 2010 for allegedly insulting the Prophet.
The threat of an attack like Joseph suffered was also made to Kerala Varma College professor Deepa Nisanth. She had spoken of supporting an SFI banner that had carried the Saraswati painting of M F Husain. Hindutva outfits feel that by painting Saraswati in the nude, Husain had insulted the religion.
Nisanth said morphed pictures of her were circulated on social media and one person commented that the professor might be the model for the painting. Nisanth said she got messages from various social media accounts threatening acid attack. “Some groups threatened I would be handled in the manner Prof T J Joseph was attacked.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would strongly deal with the threat to writers and cultural activists. On his Facebook page, Vijayan said the government would not tolerate attempts to threaten and defame those who take a progressive and divergent stand on various issues.
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