KOZHIKODE: The killing of four men from Kerala by security forces in far away Jammu and Kashmir has led to worried community leaders here introspecting on the hows and whys of terrorism striking root in their state.
Expressing shock and pain that some young men from their community are reportedly involved in terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim leaders blame political parties, a lack of proper understanding of Islam as well as the proliferation of organisations with narrow views.
Kerala Police have confirmed that the four youths killed in two gun battles with security forces in Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir on Oct 7 and 10 were from the southern state.
Two were from Kannur district and one each from Malappuram and Ernakulam districts, the police said.
"We are pained by this development," said Pinangode Aboobacker, working secretary of the Sunni Yuvajana Sangham (SYS), which is affiliated to the Samastha Kerala Jamiat-ul-Ulema, a prominent Sunni group in the state.
"I think the problem of terrorism reared its head after cracks developed in Muslim unity in the state. Later, certain organisations became successful in attracting people to terrorism," Aboobacker said.
Aboobacker blamed political parties for creating dissensions within the community. The media and governments have also failed to nurture a sense of nationalism among the people and youth were becoming an easy prey to the propaganda of anti-national forces, he said.
"Until a few decades ago celebrations of Independence Day and Republic Day were occasions for people to come together. This has now changed. Now, people consider them just as another holiday."
Kerala state secretary of the Jamaat-e-Islami, M.K. Muhammadali, said that there was a proliferation of organisations with narrow views in the community that helped the spread of the terrorist ideology.
"The government should promote organisations with social commitment and discourage others," he suggested.
Muhammadali said that "those killed in Kashmir had criminal backgrounds. It must have been their criminality that made them join terrorist organisations".
He said Islam does not approve of its followers working against the country or a community.
"Our nation allows freedom of religion and freedom of thought to all people. Terrorism has no place here," said A.P. Abdul Khader Moulavi, general secretary of the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahidden (KNM), a Sunni organisation that follows the Salafi school of philosophy.
"It is wrong to blame a community for incidents like this. The youths who died in Kashmir were obviously led astray by wrong company," he added.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) said that it was a matter of great concern that the roots of terrorism had reached the state.
"Kerala has been a model for religious harmony. It is unfortunate that the terrorist ideology is gaining currency here," said E.T. Muhammed Basheer, state secretary of IUML and a former education minister.
He claimed that one of the reasons for the rise of terrorist tendencies in the state was the efforts of the Left parties to weaken IUML.
"The Left always tried to capitalise on the moderate stand we had taken on various issues. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, the Left promoted groups like PDP (People's Democratic Party) led by Abdul Nassar Maudani that held extreme views. This has helped spawn terrorism in the state," Basheer claimed.
Hussain Saqaffi, head of the department of Islamic studies at Jamia Markazu Ssaquafathi Ssunniyya, a Muslim educational and religious institution in Kozhikode, said that youngsters were attracted to terrorism as they have not understood the Islamic precepts properly.
"These people jeer at religious scholars and there are organisations here which mould them that way. We have to bring these youths back to the true Islamic fold," said Hussain.
As per the 2001 census Kerala's Muslim population is around eight million and constitutes 24 percent of the state's total population. It is the second largest community in the state after Hindus. The community is well organised and plays a pivotal role in state politics.