Kerala

Two held for ‘provocative sloganeering’ at PFI rally

A  Popular Front of India rally held in Alappuzha on Saturday.

A  Popular Front of India rally held in Alappuzha on Saturday. | Photo Credit: SURESH ALLEPPEY

An alleged call for violence against Hindu and Christian communities at a Popular Front of India (PFI) “Save the Republic” rally in Alappuzha on May 21 is perhaps the latest instance of incendiary rhetoric reaching an ominously shrill pitch in Kerala.

A viral video of a PFI worker shouldering a minor voicing slogans deemed by some quarters as a “death threat” to other communities provoked widespread public concern.

The police arrested two persons on the charge of promoting enmity between communities under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

They were identified as Ansar Najeeb, a resident of Erattupetta in Kottayam and PFI Alappuzha district president Navas Vandanam The police also booked the trio for outraging religious feelings (IPC 295A) and criminal intimidation (IPC 506).

The happening has raised the spectre of heightened communal tensions in the run-up to the Thrikkakkara Assembly election on May 31. The RSS-SDPI retaliatory killings in Alappuzha and Palakkad had also briefly threatened the public peace recently.

Divisive messages

Of late, Kerala has witnessed certain politicians and social media influencers injecting dangerously divisive messages into the mainstream. Recently, the State police registered a hate speech case against Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader and former legislator P.C. George for allegedly propounding a conspiracy theory that Muslims were increasing their numbers in Kerala to disempower Hindus and Christians.

Some other sections had portrayed inter-faith unions between Muslims and other communities as “Love Jihad”.

SPDI rebuts charge

SDPI State president Muvattupuzha Ashraf Moulavi alleged the pro-Sangh Parivar media had doctored the video to colour the PFI as communally divisive. The child had uttered no threat.

Mr. Moulavi appeared to duplicate the Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Annie Raja’s controversial statement that an RSS cabal held sway over the State police.

Mr. Moulavi said the State’s non-opposition to Mr. George’s anticipatory bail plea in the hate speech case had highlighted the government’s Janus-faced approach to secularism and rule of law.

In contrast, he said the police had overwhelmingly targeted SDPI and PFI workers for peacefully resisting the RSS’s Hindu majoritarian fascist agenda.

Oppn. slams govt.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the government had sacrificed secularism at the altar of political expediency. It condoned extremists to secure fringe fundamentalist votes in the Thrikkakara Assembly byelection.

LDF’s votebank politics: BJP

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president K. Surendran said the government had tacitly endorsed extremist elements with an eye on “20% fixed deposit votes” in Thrikkakara.

CPI(M) stance

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] felt the arrests were indicative of the government's resolve to uphold the law.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 10:26:12 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/two-held-for-provocative-sloganeering-at-pfi-rally/article65458060.ece