Photo courtesy: Kerala Kaumudi TV
The overhyped pluralistic psyche of Kerala doesn’t mind the news of a leaked Malayalam audio clip allegedly of the head the Kasaragod IS module who had left to join Islamic State in Afghanistan calling for a war against infidels (Hindus and Christians) in India. The terrorist is heard calling for lone-wolf attacks such as using a truck on crowds at religious events or temples. In the audio clip, he also suggests poisoning of food or using knife to kill non-Muslims. He specifically mentions of driving a truck over devotees visiting Thrissur Pooram or Maha Kumbh Mela.
Interestingly, the Sabarimala pilgrimage last December witnessed tight security following a clear warning from the central security agencies. Though the Kerala Police does not accept that the alerts it issued keeping in mind the threats in the audio clip. The police warned the Thrissur Railway station about a conspiracy to poison drinking water for Sabarimala pilgrims. The police instructed the railways to take necessary actions to ensure the safety of the drinking water and food served to pilgrims going to Sabarimala and other places. It also stepped up the security at various levels and considered terror attack methods which may go unnoticed in the conventional practice of surveillance.
It can’t be just a coincidence that one of the methods suggested in the audio clip was used at Sasthamkotta in Kollam district of Kerala when a few persons allegedly having links with the extremist political outfit Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), drove a car into the heavy crowd that had gathered at the Ayyappa temple to partake annadanam (food served in temples). The alarmed devotees confronted the attackers but were attacked with swords. Five persons – three RSS and two CPI(M) supporters — were seriously injured in the attack. The Kerala Police arrested three persons belonging to SDPI in connection with the incident.
If the alerted devotees had not reacted, the incident could have been similar to the attack in Nice, Paris where a 31-year old Tunisian man named Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, allegedly an IS follower ploughed a lorry into a large crowd watching a fireworks display to mark the Bastille Day. The attack had left dozens of people including children dead.
The well-oiled network of the sleeper cells of these organizations meticulously plans the execution of their ideas. They want to assess the people’s reaction to incidents like Kollam. Unfortunately, the local media didn’t report this incident with due importance. And even though the local CPI(M) members were hurt in the attack, the police gave a cold response, citing this as a small issue. But parallels can be drawn through small episodes such as this one to understand the IS’ modus operandi. In Kannur district, which is notorious for political clashes, the SDPI followers often use surgical knives to attack opponents. It is not life-threatening but leaves the victim with a permanent injury. It would not be an exaggeration to say that such incidents prove that Kerala is sitting on a bombshell these days. Several cases of forced Love Jihad are being reported but State Government prefers to turn a blind eye terming them as unrelated to terror activities.
Kerala has the highest number of persons who had flown to Syria to join the IS. Although the situation is alarming, the Kerala society or intelligentsia prefer to live in denial. At Kollam, a deliberate attempt is being made to disturb the communal harmony by the extremist political outfits but the Hindu organizations in the area maintain their composure thus preventing the matters from escalation. However, if the State government does not pay attention to these smaller incidents and decipher the bigger threat behind them it is sure to leave the God’s Own Country’ with a wound that would never heal.