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India: Muslim Refugee Families in Kerala Return Home - Al Jazeerah Info (Arab News, Saudi Arabia)

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  • Zafar Khan
    Muslim Refugee Families in Kerala Return Home Mohammed Ashraf Arab News
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2003
      Muslim Refugee Families in Kerala Return Home
      Mohammed Ashraf
      Arab News


      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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