The explosion in a prayer meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian sect, in Kochi in Kerala that led to the loss of life of three people, and the instantaneous launch of a vicious campaign against a community point to the communal tinder box that the southern state has perched itself on.
The police came up with pieces corroborative evidence that sustain the confessional narrative of the suspect, who himself claims to be a past member of the sect. As per his version, he committed the gruesome act out of desperation as his attempts to change the course of the sect which he alleges commits anti-national acts had failed. It is for the police to get to the bottom of the case and verify the version in its fullest form. Questions remain whether it was a solitary act or whether he had received support in his horrible mission.
It is for the Kerala society to ponder over the thought process of at least a section of its members who get distorted notions of nationalism and the violent ways of its defence. Difference of opinion is germane to a living society and democracy has mechanisms to address them. All those who peddle ideas of nationalism must also rethink if their versions have the potential to turn normal human beings into violent ones unrepentant of their acts.
The more serious issue that the state which hosts the followers of the three prominent communities — Hindu, Muslim and Christian — faces is the instant traction hate messages get there. No sooner than the news of the blast had come with sketchy details, and no clues had been reported on the culprit, did a campaign erupt blaming the Muslim community for it. It gained additional momentum when a member of the Union Council of Ministers with roots in the state linked it to the developments in West Asia. His tweets postulated that innocents of all communities pay the price of “appeasement politics” of the CPM and the Congress and that open calls by “terrorist Hamas” cause “attacks and bomb blasts on innocent Christians”. Social media was swarmed with posts that spewed communal venom. The charade ended only when the police announced the surrender of the suspect and his confessional video on Facebook went viral. It was only last week that an altercation in a bus in northern Kerala was given communal colour and spread around.
An all-party meeting the state government called on Monday unanimously resolved to “resist with all might the attempts to sow poisonous seeds of mistrust, hatred and intolerance” and protect all costs the state’s unique social milieu of peace, brotherhood and harmony and to “ensure that Kerala moves forward single-mindedly overcoming such isolated attempts to create disharmony.”
It is imperative that the political parties come out in one voice against the attempts to vitiate social life in the state. However, it is also important that those who orchestrate communal campaigns are made to answer before the law. It is time the people of the state, the political parties and the government put their hands together and defeat the divisive forces so that the state remains what it is: God’s Own Country.