How a changed administration changed the fate of Kerala’s ‘notorious’ Kasaragod

Kerala’s Kasaragod is in the news since decades for a number of reasons. The increase in Muslim population who cared least for education could do nothing other than finding their livelihood in smuggling and illegal money transactions. From the north to the south, whenever there was a crime, people in Kerala often found a man in the gang who is from the northern district of Kasaragod.

It was just a matter of a few decades, as the Muslim population grew, the economy of the district also grew, though the money people had was ‘unaccountable’ or ‘illegal’. The money brought from gulf countries to the district was primarily invested in real estate, as a result, the Muslim population managed to further expand their domain often by acquiring vast stretches of the district that once remained barren.

Minimum regular and maximum religious education made the locality vulnerable to communal unrest several times in the past. Many of the Hindu majority areas were later renamed to Islamic to show the dominance, whereas one locality was renamed as Gaza street. A locality close to Kasaragod city which had its name as Nayanmar Moola (That means a place of people belonging to Nair community in Hindus) was later called by them as Nayi Mar moola (a place for dogs).

It is also important to note that this is perhaps the only district in India where the day Babri Masjid was demolished is observed as the black day. A video of a health worker teaching local women behind the curtain (as it is restricted for women in the community to come directly in contact with other men) had gone viral. It is surprising to note that many of the women here have as many as 7-8 children even today. All these changes had come in just a few recent years, people belonging to the Hindu community believe that sooner or later they may have to exile from the place where they were born and brought up. Another Kashmir repeating here?

It is in this context, a pandemic like Coronavirus spread across the world. Lack of education or the religious teaching that supersede commonsense, Kasaragod became the epicentre of the disease in the state, whereas the panic Karnataka closed its border and even the neighbouring district in Kerala too followed the same to avoid spreading of Coronavirus infection. Looking at the district administration under Sajith Babu IAS proven to be an utter failure managing the situation, the state government moved quickly for they knew that things would go out of control if the situation persists. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan picked Alkesh Kumar Sharma IAS to rein in the pandemic.

When Sharma arrived the northern district bordering Karnataka, 88 persons were already infected with coronavirus, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to engulf the district. Unperturbed by the challenges, Sharma, who took charge as the district special officer on March 29, charted out a clear plan and ensured that it was executed perfectly without causing much trouble to the public. Alkesh had earlier garnered attention for the ‘God’s Own Country’ campaign of the Kerala tourism.

Finally, after a few weeks of hard work, the administration has succeeded in bringing the district under control. Today, Kerala’s ‘notorious’ district of Kasaragod which found its space in the media for the epicentre of Corornavirus pandemic has won applause from the centre. Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal on Saturday singled out Kasaragod in Kerala for special praise for handling of coronavirus outbreak in the district and detailed the effective implementation of various containment measures despite the various unique challenges it faced.

Even though Kasaragod is in a safer side now, most of the places are under a double lockdown whereas areas that are engulfed by Muslims population are under the control of the police. We do not know, if the restrictions are withdrawn, Kasaragod would once again be a threat to the entire region. Let’s hope that state as well as the district administration would learn from the past.

Kasaragod deserves a stricter administration than any other district in the state or in the country. State and the Central Intelligence agencies need to be more vigil before another pandemic, in the form of a communal riot, would emerge from the district which would not only affect the region but the whole nation.