Follow Us:
Friday, January 21, 2022

In Kerala, Muslim outfits make a dash for dailies

The National Democratic Front (NDF), which the previous CPI(M) Government had declared an extremist outfit, is now poised to join a slew of ...

Written by Rajeev P I | Kozhikode |
August 25, 2005

The National Democratic Front (NDF), which the previous CPI(M) Government had declared an extremist outfit, is now poised to join a slew of Muslim organisations in north Kerala which own their own newspapers. Many of these newspapers wield substantial clout in the community. And most of them are either run by—or employ in key positions—former Comrades.

The NDF considers itself a minority-Dalit-civil rights platform but has been involved in many murders and acts of violence across the state—the RSS and CPI(M) have mainly been on the receiving end. It has also been blamed for various acts of Islamic radicalism in the Muslim-dominated pockets of Malappuram.

Ironically, the outfit has chosen a former state-level Students’ Federation of India (SFI) leader, N P Chekkutty, as the executive editor of its yet-to-be-named newspaper that will be launched in December. The SFI is the CPI(M)’s student outfit. Chekkutty has been a director of the CPM’s Malayalam TV Channel, Kairali, and has been associated with its newspaper, Desabhimani.

The chief editor of the paper is P Koya, a former college don who was suspended from his job after an Islamic encyclopaedia he edited allegedly featured a map showing Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. Koya subsequently won a court reprieve.

NDF sources expect the newspaper, which will be launched in Kozhikode, to have an initial print run of 50,000. Editions from Thiruvanantapuram and Kochi and eventually the Gulf are planned.

Most Muslim factions and splinter groups in north Kerala have their own dailies or are planning to launch them. Many are eyeing the space that has opened up due to the decline in the Muslim League’s influence and support base.

A former CPI(M) senior journalist who is working at one of these dailies says: ‘‘Hiring Communist professionals is no longer a no-no for them. There are long-ignored common causes that Communists and the Muslim community here share: anti-imperialism and anti-feudal agitations for instance.’’

Among recently-launched newspapers is Siraj, owned by the highly influential Sunni faction of Kanthapuram A P Abubacker Musaliar. The newspaper is headed and managed by K T Suresh who worked at the now-defunct CPI mouthpiece, Janayugam.

Varthamanam, the newspaper of the Mujahid faction of Hussain Madavoor, is looked after by Rajeev Sankaran from the CPM channel Kairali. Its chief editor is Sukumar Azhikode, one of Kerala’s best known left-of-centre polemicists.

Madhyamam, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s multi-edition newspaper which sells several lakh copies, has many CPI(M) and CPI-ML men on its staff.

A newspaper is a must-own for the new splinter outfits hoping to exploit the decline of the Muslim League. ‘‘But we are going to see quite a bit of jostling for the market. For instance, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Madhyamam, the fourth largest newspaper in Kerala, had been helping itself to substantial NDF support. Chandrika, the official organ of the Muslim League, may also be hit,’’ an industry source says.


Chandrika: Muslim League

Siraj: Sunni faction

Madhyamam: Jamaat-e-Islami

Varthamanam: Mujahid faction

Swadesabhimani: Proposed name of NDF newspaper

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard