• 20 June, 2024
Foreign Affairs, Geopolitics & National Security

Hamas is Holy in Kerala?

Colonel S Dinny (Retd) Fri, 03 Nov 2023   |  Reading Time: 4 minutes

Recently, well known diplomat turned politician Dr Shashi Tharoor learnt the hard way that Hamas is ‘holy’ in Kerala.

On October 26, in a rally organised by Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) for expressing solidarity with the Palestinians, Dr Shashi Tharoor had referred to the October 7 Hamas attackers as “terrorists”. His 32-minute speech was otherwise fully dedicated to the Palestinian cause. But the fact that he mentioned Hamas attackers as “terrorists” saw him face a fierce backlash from some quarters of the Kerala society. The humiliation was complete when he was dropped from the list of speakers in yet another solidarity event for Palestinians which was planned to be conducted after two days in Thiruvananthapuram, his own constituency.

In the meantime, in Kerala, former head of Hamas, Khaled Mashal was given centre stage to address virtually a pro-Palestine rally in Malappuram district organized by Jamaat-e-Islami youth wing Solidarity Youth Movement. There was not even a murmur of protest in Kerala about the participation of former head of Hamas in this event.

The irony was that while Dr Shashi Tharoor spoke of peace, Khaled Mashal urged people to “take the streets and show anger” in his inflammatory speech!

Such is the state of radicalisation in Kerala.

The October 7 brutal Hamas terror attack on Israel was received with shock and dismay all over the world. India had immediately responded by showing support to the terror victims. But it was some of the politicians from Kerala who were immediately at the forefront of ‘legitimising’ the terror attacks. Even before the bodies of dead were buried in Israel, Mr. MA Baby, a former Member of Parliament and senior leader of the CPI(M) stated that the terror attack by Hamas was merely a “retaliation” to the continued occupation of Palestinian land by the Israelis. Not a word was spoken about the horrific terror attack or about the victims in Israel by him.

The very next day another CPI(M) leader, M Swaraj, blatantly proclaimed that, “whatever they do, it is justified”.

These leaders are not ordinary leaders of the state. They are acknowledged as the “intellectuals” of the state and play a key role in shaping the narrative on any national or international issue in Kerala. So, if they are the torchbearers of the ‘Hamas Whitewash Brigade’, it reflects only the extent of radicalisation in Kerala. The political compulsion of these leaders to position themselves in this manner is a direct reflection of this growing radicalisation.

A state already under the scanner for various terror activities in the past was pushed to the brink yet again when multiple IED blasts took place in a convention centre at Kalamassery in Kerala on October 29. The blasts took place during a convention organised by Jehovah’s Witnesses – a Christian religious group that originated in the United States in the 19th century. The attack claimed three lives and left over 50 injured. Immediately, social media in Kerala was filled with communal hate comments, posts and conspiracy theories.

But before the perfect recipe for potential communal violence could manifest itself, the perpetrator of the blast, Dominic Martin, surrendered himself to the police. He belonged to the same community which was attacked and apparently had personal reasons for the attack. Although at present it looks like a ‘lone wolf’ attack, more investigations are required to find out the entire truth.

However, the attack had an unlikely fallout once again in Kerala. Union Minister, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who while expressing solidarity with the victims of the Kalamassery attack had also spoken of increasing radicalization in Kerala. For this comment, he was booked for “attempting to disturb the communal harmony of the state” by the Kerala Police. Another dangerous incident was thus deliberately drowned in the cacophony of the state politics.

These ‘lone wolf’ attacks are increasingly becoming common in Kerala.

Earlier this year on April 2, another of these ‘lone wolf’ attack in Kerala took place in Elathur. It was a terror attack in the garb of a train arson case. In this a 27-year-old Delhi resident, Shahrukh Saifi, sprinkled inflammable liquid on the passengers of the Alappuzha-Kannur executive train and set the D1 bogey on fire. This terror attack resulted in the death of three people and injuries to many. Unlike Martin Dominic who surrendered to the police, Saifi had escaped and was arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. According to the NIA investigations, Saifi chose to commit the terror act in Kerala because he felt he would be the safest here and could escape and lead a normal life again.

After the ban on Popular Front of India (PFI) and when nationwide operations were being carried out by NIA to crackdown on its terror activities last year, the maximum number of raids and arrests were recorded in Kerala.

Thus, Kerala is turning into a perfect hub for terrorism to germinate and flourish under the unstinted patronage of the political leadership of the state. The fact that Kerala has become a recruiting ground for terrorist organisations was reiterated by former Kerala state DGP Loknath Behara himself on June 27, 2021. A state which was once known for its socio-economic achievements and tourism is today increasingly being referred to as a safe haven for terror activities and organized crimes.
The Israel-Hamas war has brought to the fore once again the deep-rooted radicalization which has crept into Kerala society.

There is no doubt that humanity should prevail and ‘disproportionate’ use of force in Gaza, even for self defence by Israel cannot be justified. But at the same time, Hamas cannot be absolved of its responsibility in this tragedy that is unfolding in Israel and Gaza. Hamas planned, executed and celebrated a barbaric terror attack on innocent civilians in Israel.

Unfortunately, by supporting the very same Hamas and proclaiming it holy, the radical elements in Kerala are creating a scenario in the near future, wherein the common man as part of any religious or political organisation starts believing that if there is a “cause”, it can be pursued through use of violence as a “means”. He would believe that more the brutality, more the furtherance of the “cause”! And he would also be confident that he would be protected, legitimized and glorified by some of the political and religious establishments in the state.

Therefore, it is in Kerala’s interests that petty politics for short term gains be kept aside, and the issue of growing radicalization be tackled in a professional and united manner while ensuring complete support of the society. If not, then Kerala is staring at a potential terror induced communal flare up that could potentially lead to large scale violence and massive losses of human lives and properties, not seen any time in the history of Kerala. For there is nothing holy about terrorism!

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Colonel S Dinny (Retd) has had five operational tenures in counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East. He has done his research for MPhil on counter-terrorism operations from Madras University. He was a faculty at Defence Services Staff College. Presently, he is the Editor, Chanakya forum. His Twitter handle is @sdinny14.


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