The Candid Eye

December 7, 2009

Melvisharam: “Darul Islam” of Tamil Nadu

An article by Chennai based senior journalist on Vijayavaani.

The Supreme Court’s Order

November 9, 2009 is a significant day in the religious, political and demographic history of India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular. The Supreme Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to consider within three months the representations filed by “Keel-visharam” (Lower Visharam) villagers for the de-merger of their Panchayat from the “Mel-visharam” (Upper Visharam) Panchayat of Vellore district and forward them to the Governor to act upon. The SC Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam also directed the Tamil Nadu government to communicate the same to Janata Party president Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, a respondent in the case.

Islam, its concepts and character

Before going into the facts of this important case, one needs to know the facts about the fundamental character of Islam and the Muslim community. This revolves around six important concepts – Ummah, Darul Islam, Darul Harb, Jehad, Taquia and Kafir – which are practiced and executed as per the Koran, Hadith and Sura.

Darul Harb

Darul Harb

Ummah is an Arabic word meaning “community” or “nation”. In the context of Islam, ummahmeans the “Community of the Believers” (ummat al-mu’minin), and thus the whole Muslim world. Wikipedia’s definition on Ummah.

Darul Islam is an Islamic term for the Muslim regions of the world under the system of divisions of the world in Islam. The term appears in the Quran in 6.127 as a name of Paradise. Islamic Nations fall under this category.

Darul Harb is a term classically referring to those countries where the Muslim law is not in force in the matter of worship and the protection of the faithful and Dhimmis. For much of Islamic history, this is the preferred term used to describe non-Islamic societies, emphasizing various Islamic countries’ aspirations to conquer such territories and render them part of Darul-Islam. Wikipedia’s definition on Darul-Islam.

Kafir in the Islamic doctrinal sense refers to a person who does not recognize Allah or the prophethood of Muhammad (i.e., any non-Muslim) or who hides, denies, or covers the “truth”. Quran, Sura 2 Verse 256, asks them to take upon themselves the action of “Kofr” of all unjust idols, persons or powers. It is translated in English as “unbeliever,” “ungrateful,” or “obliterator,” and is seen as derogatory(Wikipedia on Kafir). People of other faiths are addressed as Kafirs.

Jihadi Culture in TamilNadu

Jihadi Culture in TamilNadu

Jihad, an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. Jihad appears frequently in the Qur’an and common usage as the idiomatic expression “striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)”. A person engaged in jihad is a mujahid, plural mujahideen. The four major categories of jihad are – Jihad against one’s self (Jihad al-Nafs), Jihad of the tongue (Jihad al-lisan), Jihad of the hand(Jihad al-yad), and Jihad of the sword (Jihad as-sayf). Islamic military jurisprudence focuses on regulating the conditions and practice of Jihad as the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law, and thus the term Jihad is usually used in fiqh manuals in reference to military combat. Know more about Jehad.

The word “al-Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing or disguising one’s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury.” A one-word translation would be “dissimulation”. The Taqiyah doctrine is based on Qur’an 3:28: “Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them”. Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir explained that “believers that fear for their safety from the unbelievers… are allowed to show friendship to the unbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly”.What is Taqiyya??

From the above, we can see that to convert the world into an Ummah, Muslims wage Jihad using Al-Taquiya against Kafirs to convert Darul Harbs into Darul Islam. This prompted Dr Prithipal, Professor Emeritus, Professor of Comparative Religion, University of Alberta, Canada, to observe: ‘Muslims will only live as an oppressive majority and turbulent minority’.

Introduction to Melvisharam

Visharam is a town in the ‘Arcot’ Assembly constituency in Vellore district. It has a considerable population of Muslims, who are largely concentrated in areas like Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Arcot and local Vellore as well. Initially, Visharam had two panchayats – Melvisharam dominated by Muslims and Keelvisharam dominated by Scheduled Castes (Adi Dravidas) and MBCs (Vanniyars). The panchayats were constituted in 1951. While Melvisharam had 17 wards, Keelvisharam had 4 wards. In 1996, the then DMK government, yielding to pressure of Melvisharam Muslims, merged Keelvisharam with it. Later in October 2004, the then AIADMK government upgraded Melvisharam as Grade-III Municipality. Later in August 2008, it was merged with Vellore Corporation.

Melvisharam being a predominantly Muslim town, the Urdu-speaking community was quite wealthy with an economy largely based on Tanneries, while the SCs and MBCs of Keelvisharam were dependent solely on agriculture in the water-starved region. The merger of Keelvisharam with Melvisharam has brought immense difficulties to its people, who were forced to approach the courts due to the total indifference and arrogance of successive governments, Dravidian parties and self-styled Dalit and Vanniyar leaders. Dr. Subramaniam Swamy took up their cause, and there is now hope for permanent relief to the hapless Hindus of Keelvisharam.

Melvisharam as Darul-Islam

Journalist Puduvai Saravanan made an ‘on the spot’ investigative report way back in 2005. The Tamil magazine “Vijayabaratham” also published an investigative story on this.

Only Urdu gets prominence in Melvisharam. In Municipal sessions, the Chairman and members discuss all issues only in Urdu. The Municipal Library contains only Urdu books, magazines and newspapers, and has very few Tamil newspapers, that too as a formality. The Muslim majority of Melvisharam speak Tamil only with strangers visiting the town. The only street with just 10 Hindu families is named “Tamil Street”! The names of all other streets and even the names of shops and other trade venues and business establishments are written only in Urdu.

Vellore District in TN

Vellore District in TN

Melvisharam has “Abdul Hakim Engineering College”, “Abdul Hakim Arts & Science College”, and five schools run by “Melvisharam Muslim Educational Society” (MMES). A landmark is Masjid-e-Khizar whose minaret is 175 ft (53 m) high. In 2003 K.H. Group of Companies and Apollo Group of Hospitals set up the Apollo KH Hospital. Banks and other establishments are aplenty. But, it doesn’t have a police station! Everything is decided only by Jamaat (public – as told by Amjad Hussein, who runs a fruit juice shop).

Keelvisharam is also called ‘Rasaththipuram,’ and since its merger with Melvisharam, the Panchayat election has never been conducted democratically. The local Jamaat decides the Chairman and Councillors and only they can file nominations. Nobody else can.

In 2002, the four councilors of Rasathipuram were beaten black and blue by the other Muslim councillors and since then the people of Rasathipuram (four wards) have been boycotting the elections.Know more on this news.

The Melvisharam Jamaat had the practice of choosing an influential Muslim of the ruling party as Chairman of the Municipality. The proceedings of the Municipal session were never known to the Hindus. It is alleged that most times the sessions were conducted in wealthy Muslim homes and not in official municipal premises.

While most of municipal jobs were given to Muslims, menial jobs like sweeping and scavenging only were given to Hindus (SCs and MBCs).

K.L. Elavazhagan of PMK is the present MLA (Arcot) and hails from Keelvisharam. His father K. Loganathan was murdered in 1991. Though the murder was projected as ‘political rivalry’, it was learnt that the killer was saved and converted to Islam by an influential Muslim from Melvisharam. He is presently living with his Muslim wife leading a cushy life. (As PMK leadership was always pandering to minorities, Elavazhagan had no option but to toe the party line and couldn’t proceed against his father’s killers).

On the banks of ‘Palar’ river in Keelvisharam, the SCs had their burial ground on poromboke lands, which was encroached by Muslims who built around 300 houses there illegally. The Melvisharam municipality named it “Sadhik Basha Nagar” and gave electricity and water connections and issued “Patta” for the owners (sic). A few Dalit hutments situated in nearby were not given power and water supply.

The wealthy Muslims forced the SCs and MBCs to sell their lands for paltry sums and built Tanneries on those lands. The used water and wastage from the tanneries polluted the water resources of Keelvisharam, resulting in agricultural lands becoming infertile and useless. A few years back, the Jamaat issued an order that the lands (worth Rs.10,000/- per ‘cent’) in Keelvisharam must be bought at the rate of only Rs.1000/- per ‘cent’.

The Melvisharam Municipality had passed a resolution to set up a “Waste-water purification plant” in the land (Survey 256/2 – 31.66 acres) at Rasathipuram which comprised a Cashew Farm and an open air temple with “Ganesh Murti” and “Village Amman Deity”, where Hindus (SC Dalits and MBC Vanniyars) have been celebrating Pongal and other festivals for hundreds of years. Due to stiff Hindu opposition, the Muslim Municipality couldn’t set up the waste water treatment plant, but they destroyed the Cashew farm worth 10 crore rupees completely and demolished the Ganesh Murtis. Representations to the district authorities fell on deaf ears. Now the Muslims are trying to encroach on this land in the guise of laying drainage systems. The Hindus are determined to save their land and temple. The only Ganesh Temple in Melvisharam is used as a store room by Muslims to store old equipments and worn out things.

Hindus are allowed to run only ‘Saloons’ and ‘Laundries’ in Melvisharam. Many families in Keelvisharam roll beedi leaves for Beedi factories owned by Muslims of Melvisharam.

Muslims are trying to settle in Keelvisharam and build Mosques there, to change the demography of the small Hindu area. Government schemes and concessions are not passed on to Hindus of Keelvisharam. Every facility (drainage, water supply, power supply, roads, etc.) is enjoyed by Melvisharam while nothing is passed on to Rasathipuram.

The New Indian Express reported on 10 November 2009 that all Muslim functionaries of the Panchayat have denied all administrative and developmental facilities and even basic amenities such as drinking water to the four wards where Hindus reside. Adding insult to injury, when Hindus demanded their rightful share, they were asked to convert to Islam. Muslims of Melvisharam have discriminated against Hindus of Rasathipuram by violating Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.

The Hindus (SCs and MBCs) of Keelvisharam have been oppressed for years and no Dravidian party bothered to attend to their grievances. All Tamil political parties have been acting like beggars for Muslim votes, showing scant regards to Tamil Hindus. Sadly, neither English nor vernacular media in the State bothered to report the problems and misery of the hapless Hindu victims of Islamic oppression. But for Dr. Swamy, journalist Puduvai Saravanan and magazine “Vijayabaratham”, the facts of a “Darul Islam” in Melvisharam would not have come out into the open.

The legal course

Subramaniam Swamy filed a PIL in 2007 in the Madras High Court, seeking a direction to the government to constitute the revenue village of Keelvisharam as a separate village Panchayat instead of being part of Melvisharam Panchayat (now upgraded as municipality).

The High Court issued an order on February 5, 2007 saying that the various Melvisharam public grievances petitions and the demand for partition be considered by the Governor. The Tamil Nadu government, instead of abiding by the HC order, approached the SC against it through a Special Leave Petition, and on 16 January 2009, the SC stayed the HC judgment and issued notice to Dr. Swamy.

Now disposing off the state government’s appeal, the Supreme Court directed it to consider within three months the representations filed by Keelvisharam villagers for de-merger of their Panchayat from the Melvisharam Panchayat of Vellore district and forward the same to the Governor to act upon.

Conclusion

Melvisharam is not the only “Darul Islam” in Tamil Nadu. Dr. Swamy says there are forty panchayats across the state in similar conditions: “In TN there are 40 Town Panchayats with Muslim majority and the minority Hindus there are living with the same Hobson’s choice or Catch-22. Hence, Melvisharam was a test case. With the help of VHP, I shall now visit all 40 Town Panchayats from Melvisharam to Thondi (Ramnathapuram) and see that the minority Hindus get their due share and are not harassed for conversion of their faith to Islam. So this judgment will trigger similar demands in all 40 Panchayats and lead to state-wide Hindu consolidation. That is Karunanidhi’s nightmare” (the ruling DMK tends to discriminate against Hindus for minority votes).

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