They gather in large numbers to pay respects to slain CRPF constable
“ Fidayeen ? Ah… I’m sorry. I don’t know what it means. I’m hearing it for the first time,” was how S. Mohammad Shahid, Imam (worship leader) of Masjid-e-Maamoor, a mosque at Thummanaickanpatti in Peraiyur Taluk near here, reacted even as scores of other perplexed Muslims gazed at each other searching for an answer with respect to the meaning of the term.
They had gathered in large numbers near the village temple ground on Friday to pay their last respects to L. Perumal, a 29-year-old Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable who was shot dead in a fidayeen (militants volunteering to die) attack in Srinagar on Wednesday. His coffin draped in tricolour was flown to Chennai on Thursday night and then brought to the village by road.
Though unfamiliar with the term fidayeen , the Imam denounced terrorist attacks as un-Islamic. “Islam preaches only brotherhood and oneness. Our village itself stands as an example of secularism. Muslims, Dalits and Hindus belonging to other castes such as Asari, Nadar and Naicker had been living here peacefully for years together without giving room for confrontation,” he said.
Concurring with him, Village Administrative Officer A. Sundaraperumal said that though Dalits were a majority in the village, they voluntarily accord first respects to Caste Hindus during annual temple festivals. Muslims too were invited to these festivals. The only sore point was that each of these three major groups maintained separate burial and cremation grounds.
On Friday, Minister for Cooperation ‘Sellur’ K. Raju and Collector Anshul Mishra placed a wreath on behalf of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and handed over a cheque for Rs.5 lakh as ordered by her to the family members of the slain CRPF constable. Thereafter, the body was taken to a burial ground meant exclusively for Dalits of the village and buried with due honours.
Every wall, ceiling and pedestal around the temple ground was swarmed by people who wanted to take a glimpse of the constable’s face. But, they could not as the body was covered from head to toe. The constable’s parents rued that they were not able to see their son’s face even after waiting for two long days for the body to reach the village.