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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Kerala: questions over vicar's killing

By Ajir Kutty

Mother Superior Kusumam of Missionaries of Charity in a Calicut hospital after being attacked on 26 September 04
Mother Superior Kusumam of Missionaries 
of Charity in a Calicut hospital after being 
attacked on 26 September 04

On 28 August this year, a septuagenarian vicar, Father Job Chittilappally, connected with the St. Varaprasada Math Church at Thuruthiparambu near Chalakkudy in the Thrissur district of Kerala was found dead at his residence with stab injuries. The incident caused much uproar and the police after a few days of search arrested one Panthalkoottam Raghu Kumar in his late twenties in connection with the priest’s murder. Upon questioning he admitted to the killing and said that he was driven to the act, as he could not stomach the anti-Hindu activities of the Church. The BJP as well as the other Sangh Parivar outfits were, however, quick to disown the suspected killer, saying they had no connection whatsoever with the accused or his act. 

Whether the RSS is directly involved in heinous crimes like this or not, there is no gainsaying that it is certainly the Sangh Parivar ideology and the vicious atmosphere created by its spread that drive certain misguided elements to dastardly acts of murder and mayhem.

At this juncture it is worth going back on a flash back of the machinations and intrigues resorted to the RSS family in Kerala with the evil intent of making capital out of communal discords and the resultant strives. Although Kerala has the largest number of RSS units in the country according to the The Hindu of 29 January 2003, they are yet to succeed in making this tiny piece of peaceful land a communal cauldron. 

Fr.Job Chittilappally’s murder is not the first instance where a Christian missionary is targeted by Hindu communalists in Kerala. In January last year an American Christian missionary by the name of Joseph Cooper was attacked along with others while they were engaged in evangelical activities at a parish in Kilimanoor near Thiruvananthapuram. The charge levelled against them was that they were trying to convert the Dalits in the village into Christianity. 
Contrary to what one might believe, the communal scene of Kerala has never been without problems. Although of late stray incidents of Christians coming under attack from Hindu communalists have occurred, Muslims have been invariably targeted for such attacks earlier. Communal flare-ups had occurred in Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Nadapuram and Marad among others on one occasion or the other in the past. In all these instances the instigators had been men connected with a Sangh Parivar affiliate.

In the early nineteen eighties, an aged Maulavi was hacked to death in the wee hours of the morning as he rose to say his Tahajjud prayers at Thevalakkara in Kollam district. As the Maulavi, a school finalist, was known for his piety and strict Islamic life, his death at the hands of certain venomous communal elements had created anger and despair among the Muslims of Kerala. Again in the early nineties, a young Muslim teacher attached to a Madrasa in Kattoor near Thrissur was done to death by the Sangh elements. In another diabolic act of discriminatory killing originating from the Thiruvananthapuram riots in the nineties, a poor Muslim youth, the son of a Muezzin associated with the mosque at Kesavadasapuram was brutally murdered by RSS men. 

K M Ajir Kutty

See also: Gang attacked nuns in Kerala

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