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Communal Elements Polarising Youth to Destroy Kerala's Social Harmony, Says Youth Welfare Board Member

Recently, Kerala Police had booked 200 members of Durga Vahini in an armed processions case, while former MLA PC George has been booked twice in two months for hate speech.
Communal Elements Polarising Youth to Destroy Kerala's Social Harmony, Says Youth Welfare Board Member

Image Courtesy: Sabrang India

Thiruvananthapuram: Recently the Kerala Police registered a suo-motu case against a procession by Durga Vahini, the women's wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, carrying weapons. Durga Vahini activists were seen carrying swords at the procession held in Kezharoor near Neyyatinkara, Thiruvananthapuram. Hate speeches and slogans provoking communal tensions have become somewhat rampant in the state.

Weeks before, Kerala police had arrested Popular Front of India activists in another case of hate slogans raised at a rally in Alappuzha. PC George, former MLA from Poonjar, was also arrested for an inflammatory speech at Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan in Thiruvananthapuram.

While in the case of the Durga Vahini armed demonstration, which was held from Thelikkode Junction to Saraswathy School, Kezharur, on May 22, marking the culmination of a week-long study camp organised by Durgavahini, Aryancode police booked around 200 people. The participants and organisers of the Durga Vahini procession were booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code(IPC), including Sections 143(unlawful assembly), 144 (unlawful assembly with deadly weapons), 147(rioting) and 153(religious provocation with intent to cause riot).

The armed demonstration was conducted under the guise of permission for a peaceful procession. Police are investigating where the swords came from and who brought them. The probe will also examine whether the RSS stockpiles weapons and conducts arms training in the area, police sources told media.

Police had invoked various sections of the IPC and the Kerala Police Act against PFI Alappuzha district secretary Mujeeb and Navas, along with other identifiable people. Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of faith), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious sentiments of any section), 505(1)(b) (act against the public tranquillity), 505(1)(c), 505(2) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and Section 120(o) of KP Act were included in the FIR. 26 PFI men have been arrested in connection with the case till now, including state & district-level leaders.

After being taken into custody for his first inflammatory speech in Thiruvananthapuram in April, George was given conditional bail the same afternoon. But George was arrested again on May 25, after the court cancelled his bail as he violated the bail conditions by repeating the same offence of hate speech within a week at a temple festival in Vennala, Ernakulam. This time, the Palarivattom police booked him under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for promoting enmity between groups (153) and outraging religious feelings (295 A) on May 10.

The visuals of all these events spread widely on social media, inviting harsh criticism. Many responses called such events an attempt to 'polarise Kerala's secular fabric'.

These incidents have widely been considered a threat to the state's communal harmony.

"Children should be handed books, not swords. Values of peace, fraternity and tolerance should be taught to them instead of vengeance and hatred," noted singer Harish Sivaramakrishnan wrote on Facebook, responding to the controversy.

Speaking to NewsClick in the context of recent communal controversies in Kerala, S Satheesh, Vice-Chairperson, State Youth Welfare Board, said, "There have been targeted attempts to disrupt Kerala's secular fabric and communal harmony. The rich history of the renaissance movement and progressive politics transformed Kerala into what it is today, an exception among many other states where communal divisions are rampant. But many of the recent controversies show vigorous attempts by communal organisations of either colour to polarise the social fabric on the grounds of faith."

"The youth are being targeted. Such attempts must be defeated by upholding secular-democratic values. The values of democracy, secularism and fraternity are a common enemy for all communal organisations, and they all work together to destroy these values. For communalists of all colours, the aim is to intensify polarisation further; they know that's how they could grow," said Satheesh.

Detailing the efforts to contain communal polarisation, he said the board has taken up a mission to propagate constitutional values as an antidote to the communal venom through its various campaigns and programs.

"In the present times when even history and science are distorted to match with communal narratives, we should equip the youth to safeguard the idea of a secular India. The Youth Welfare Board promotes Scientific temper, understanding of history, and equality through seminars, cultural activities and discussions. These are the stepping stones to the idea of a Modern India," Satheesh told NewsClick.

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