'Tilak' controversy ends

KOZHIKODE JAN. 3. The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leadership today sought to put the controversy over the Local Administration Minister, Cherkalam Abdulla wearing a `tilak' by accepting his explanation that there was nothing religious about it.

During his meeting with party supremo, Panakkad Mohammadali Shihab Thangal, it is learnt that Mr. Abdulla Cherkalam reiterated his stand that he did not apply the tilak on his forehead on his own. But it was applied by the priests as part of the traditional mode of welcome during his visit to Avala Math in Kasaragod on December 9.

Mr. Abdulla called on Mr. Thangal at his residence in Kodapanakunnu in Malappuram district this evening. The Information Technology Minister, P.K. Kunhalikutty, was present. Mr. Abdulla and Mr. Kunhalikutty later met the president of the State unit of the Sunni Yuvajana Sanghom (SYS), the youth wing of the E.K. Abu Baker faction, Panakkad Syed Umerali Shihab Thangal, and briefed him on what transpired at their meeting with the Mr. Thangal. After Mr. Abdulla's discussions with the IUML chief, the latter accepted his explanations and declared the issue closed.

The controversy arose after the pictures of Mr. Abdulla sporting a `tilak' appeared in the print and electronic media.

The State Committee of the SYS had warned that Mr. Abdulla should not enter a mosque since he had applied a `tilak' which, according to them, is un-Islamic. Mr. Panakkad Syed Umerali Shihab Thangal had also asked Mr. Abdulla to offer proper repentance according to the tenets of Islam.

The priests of the Avala Math had applied `tilak' on the forehead of the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, and the Local Administration Minister, Cherkalam Abdulla, during their visit to the spiritual leader last month. However, Mr. Abdulla clarified that he had not applied the `tilak' on his own.

The Indian National League (INL) had also sought a clarification from the IUML leadership on the conduct of the Minister.

Its youth wing, the National Youth League (NYL), even demanded the resignation of the IUML chief for protecting the Minister.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) State general secretary, K. Surendran, in a press release, condemned the reported statements of various Muslim organisations demanding the ouster of Mr. Abdulla from the Cabinet for wearing a `tilak' during his visit to the math in Kasaragod.

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