Road in Kerala renamed after Gaza Strip: Conversion allowed to thrive in state: Radicalisation in overdrive mode


The renaming of a road in Kerala’s Kasargod district as Gaza Street, seen as a reference to the disputed strip of land between Israel and Egypt, has drawn the attention of police and intelligence agencies.

A signboard reading ‘Gaza Street’ has been put up at the beginning of the road, near the Juma Masjid in Thuruthi here, renamed apparently after the tiny Palestinian self-governing territory.

The area, which is named Gaza, is a symbol of Islamist resistance in West Asia that only underlines how radicalised the inhabitants have become. There are reports of a number of youths from the district having allegedly joined the ISIS recently.

In this hub of ISIS activity, young Hindus are being radicalised in coaching centres and tuition classes by committed agents of the Caliphate. Mysterious ‘rate cards’ are being distributed which put a price on religion and faith.

The rate card accessed by the channel show that certain values were placed on converting people from different religions to Islam.

Intelligence Bureau officials have for years have been saying that there are major radicalisation drives in Kerala. It was from this state that reports of special prayers being held for both Ajmal Kasab and Osama Bin Laden were reported. Moreover there is a huge flow of Saudi funds into the state in an attempt to popularise the Wahhabi culture, IB officials also said.

Intelligence agencies are not amused, despite claims that the stretch has been renamed in solidarity with those “targeted” by Israeli authorities. The street is located near Padanna village, which allegedly witnessed 22 youngsters trooping off to join the Islamic State’s militant army in recent times.

Municipal authorities said they haven’t been informed about the street being renamed, despite Kasargod district panchayat president AGC Basheer’s reported presence at the ceremony. “I was not the person who was supposed to inaugurate the street as the area falls under the municipality’s jurisdiction. But I had to step in at the last moment,” Basheer said.

Though municipality funds were believed to have been used to concretise the street, municipal authorities claim they are clueless about the naming. Municipal chairperson Beefathima Ibrahim said she does not have any knowledge about such a street under her jurisdiction.

BJP leaders, however, believe this development is part of a systematic plan to “alter the character” of the communally sensitive district. “There is nothing new about this. There have been many other attempts of the kind in Kasargod,” said K Sreekanth, the party’s district president.

Kasaragod municipality opposition leader P Rameshtold sources, “There is a deliberate attempt to change the names of various areas in Kasaragod. When such matters come to the municipal council, there will be a debate and if the name is not of public acceptance, it will be rejected. For the same reason, many such names are not brought to the attention of the council.”

The report cited a police official’s concerns of chances of such acts breeding discord among communities. “We are keeping an eye on such activities. Of late, many houses in north Kerala have put up residential nameplates in Arabic. Some have even been forced into doing this. Such activities will breed discord among various communities in the region,” the police official said.

Other places in the state have seen such renamings in the past as well. A beach in the state’s Malappuram district was renamed to Saddam Beach from Tipu Sultan Beach. The beach was renamed after the former Iraq president Saddam Hussein. It was apparently done in an act of solidarity after the 1991 Gulf War.

Kasargod has been under the radar of intelligence agencies ever since 22 youngsters disappeared from the area last year. Three of them have already been reported dead, while the rest are allegedly holding fort in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Some police officials, political leaders and prominent members of both Hindu and Christian communities continue to suspect that ‘forced conversions’, backed by foreign funds, was rampant in the state.

The mother of an ISIS terror survivor even stated that had she not overheard her daughter on the phone and figured out something was wrong, they could have been in serious trouble.

“She was intending to learn Syrian language, adopting the changes from Hinduism to another religion, namely conversion which was an utter shock. She was intending to convert from Hinduism to Islam,” she said.

Kerala High Court annulled the wedding between Shefin Jahan, a Muslim man, and Hadiya, previously called Akhila
Image Courtesy:Bar & Bench

On 24th May the Kerala High Court annulled the wedding between Shefin Jahan, a Muslim man, and Hadiya, previously called Akhila. It also ordered the police to conduct a probe into suspected conversions of Hindu women by groups linked to the Islamic State.

A bench of Justices K Surendra Mohan and Abraham Mathew asked the DGP to inquire into the role of organisations facilitating such conversions while noting that the top cop should be obligated to do this since the entire state was within his jurisdiction. It emphasised “the existence of an organizational set up functioning behind the scenes” in such cases of ‘Love Jihad’ and conversions.

In this case, Akhila’s parents had moved the Kerala High Court  after the girl had converted to Islam and stopped living or interacting with parents. The girl was also pursuing a degree in homeopathy medicine but later abandoned her studies. The court order notes that the girl came in touch with Islam through her room-mates in hostel and later one of the room-mate’s father forcibly persuaded her to embrace Islam.

Underlining that “national interest is at stake”, the Kerala High Court has ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state to conduct “comprehensive” investigation into cases of ‘Love Jihad’ and have the incidents of forcible conversion probed thoroughly.

High Court took a stern view of two such cases that came up before it and said that the DGP must supervise and monitor investigations into such instances and bring guilty to the book “as expeditiously as possible”.

“Are there any radical organizations involved, are questions that plague an inquisitive mind. But sadly, there are no answers available in this case,” said the HC as it reproached the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Perinthalmanna, the Investigating Officer in this case

“The investigation in this case was entrusted to him considering the seriousness of the issues involved, the widespread allegations of forcible conversion that were coming up and the national interest that is at stake,” rued the bench, stating he has not examined various aspects of the matter, including role of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the National Front or one or the other of its sister organizations. SDPI is the political arm of right-wing Muslim outfit Popular Front of India.

The Court added that this was certainly not a case of a person converting to another religion for love but it was a case where the woman was under control and influence of others and there had been reports of girls taken out of the country after such conversions and therefore, it was not safe to let the woman decide what she wants in life.

“Kasaragod is a district where communal divisions are deepening along with inroads being made organisations like the IS. Though this particular incident has not come to our attention, the watchful eyes of central agencies capture even minor developments happening in the district for the above reason”, a top police official told sources.

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