India: Muslim Refugee Families in Kerala Return Home - Al Jazeerah Info (Arab News, Saudi Arabia)
- Muslim Refugee Families in Kerala Return Home
TRIVANDRUM, 11 October 2003 Some 521 refugees
belonging to 72 of about 400 Muslim families who had
fled the Marad beach near northern Kerala city of
Calicut after the May 2 communal carnage returned to
their homes in the fishing hamlet yesterday amid high
The rest of the families would be rehabilitated over
the next three days, District Collector T.O. Sooraj
The authorities began the process of rehabilitation
after a meeting of Hindu and Muslim leaders convened
by Chief Minister A.K. Antony last week agreed to a
peace package that included better compensation for
the victims and a probe into the conspiracy angle by
the federally-controlled Central Bureau of
Investigations (CBI) after five months of intense
lobbying by the Sangh Parivar or the Hindu solidarity
led by VHP leader Pravin Togadia.
The issue also caused deep political divide with a
powerful section in the ruling Congress party led by
senior leader K. Karunakaran and the Marxist-led
opposition finding a common cause. The plight of the
refugees had also played a major role in the defeat of
the Congress candidate handpicked by Antony in the
recent Ernakulam by-poll, a factor that prompted the
authorities to faster action.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) district
secretary V.V. Dakshinamoorthy and Congress district
secretary M. Veeran Kutty have already protested the
manner in which the compensation, including jobs, were
offered. They demanded similar package for the victims
of the 2002 January riots, in which three Muslims and
two Hindus were killed.
The families from the Chaliyam and Kappackal relief
camps were taken to their own houses in the vehicles
provided by the district authorities. They were also
provided with provisions, enough for a week, and beds
as every house was looted of everything, from valuable
electronic instruments to the groceries. The
authorities also repaired the damaged houses.
The collector, who personally led the rehabilitation
process on the beach, said the families would also be
provided with drinking water as the miscreants dumped
the waste into the wells.
The rehabilitation was done in the less sensitive
areas. The members of these families were also in
custody for involvement in the carnage, in which eight
Hindus and a Muslim were killed. The collector said he
did not expect any problem when others too go back to
their homes. There is a firm assurance from Araya
Samajam (association of Hindu anglers), he said.
Police have arrested some 130 Muslims in connection
with the killings and they are kept in jail.
Many of those who returned to their houses yesterday
complained that the cleaning and the repair work of
the houses were not done properly. However, they do
not expect any problems with their Hindu neighbors. In
fact, it was an emotional reunion for many Hindu and
Muslim families after five months.
The authorities, however, are not taking any risks.
Several civil and police officers were camping in the
area for the past two days examining every aspect
threadbare. The hamlet has been divided into north and
south zones and put under the charge of two Deputy
Superintendents of Police (DySP).
These zones are further divided into ten sectors
clearly identifying and keeping record of each house.
City Police Commissioner T.K. Vinod Kumar said more
than 300 policemen, besides the officers of the rank
of Sub Inspector (SI) and above, will be deployed
daily on alternative shift.
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