In Chains Of The State And Popular Conscience

Abdul Nasar Ma’dani is an icon for his supporters as well as for his adversaries (and also for the adherents of calculated apoliticism). Several media trials that he underwent potentially embedded him in the mainstream popular conscience as the face of ‘islamic terrorism’. Though he had been active in social activism since the age of 17, it was in the years post Babari Masjid demolition that he ventured into full fledged politics. In the communally charged atmosphere that was conditioned by the infamous rathayathra of LK Advani, he came up with ISS (Islamic Seva Sangh), which he thought would mobilize muslim youths. After it got banned in the aftermath of Babari demolition, he initiated the formation of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as a move towards the formation of a wider alliance between all oppressed communities.

His background, that of a politically conscious Islamic preacher, provided the elitist political and media fronts with what they had been searching for since years to ‘balance’ the narratives; a Muslim counterpart of RSS. He was/is presented as the embodiment of Islamic extremism, without condoning which any narratives of Brahminical violence is not ‘balanced’ and hence not credible enough. His politics got branded as ‘communal’ and ‘fundamentalist’ even by the leaders of elite Muslim political factions. His public life has been heavily scrutinised, to the extent of subjecting all aspects of his works to close introspection and his words to out-of-context critical discussions. To this date several allegations were made against him, majority of which being his possible links with ‘terrorist’ outfits. In spite of him being dismissive of those allegations and baselessness of many of which having proven time and again, they continued to mar his life. The way he lead his political life and the hardships that he had to endure is unique, at least in the Indian political landscape. The endeavours that he made to redefine the age old political equations in the country caused angst among sections of people. This culminated in a murder attempt against him, which he narrowly escaped, though it left him permanently amputated. Since then his health conditions have been consistently deteriorating. However it didn’t detract him from his political conviction and he continued his struggles for social democracy.

The Coimbatore blasts of 1998 were a major fiasco in his political life. In the aftermath of the attack, which took 58 lives, there were deliberate attempts to drag Ma’dani into the scene through allegations of his connections with the culprits. Though he denied the charges against him, he was held as an under trial prisoner, which was despite his pathetic health conditions. The years that he spent in Coimbatore central prison gave him hard times. His bail pleas were denied time and again, and he was refused the medical attention that he deserved. He being a severe diabetic patient with heart problems added on to the trauma. The wear and tear of backbone and his amputated legs made it difficult for him to even carry out daily chores. The charge sheet against him, that was 16683 pages long, was in Tamil language, and his request for its translation to a language that he can understand was also rejected. In 2007, after being in under trial custody for 9 and half years, the court found him not guilty of the charges levelled and was released.

Ma’dani, once he was released didn’t refrain from political activism in spite of his ailing health. He continued his endeavours with more rigour and conviction. Since his release he was seen as having closer ties with the left front. In 2009 he conducted a Kerala march from Trivandrum to Kasargode as a proclamation of his politics, in which he also campaigned for the victory of left front in the Loksabha elections. However he couldn’t continue his public life longer, as his name got dragged in Bangalore blasts of 2008. He was alleged to be connected with the perpetrators of the attack. He was sent to Parappana Agrahara prison in Karnataka as an under trial custodian. Again, his health conditions got severely worsened. Uncontrolled diabetes resulted in him losing partial eyesight. Meanwhile, the key witness of Bangalore blasts case changed his position, claiming that his earlier allegations against Ma’dani were the result of coercion from the police forces.

The case of Ma’dani is seen by many people as a clear example of how state apparatuses systematically silences the ones who move against the established power dynamics in society. His politics were in radical contradiction to the ones who have been clinging on to the corridors of power since ages. The movements that he initiated had no precedence, at least in Kerala political history. The increasing acceptance that he has been receiving and its subsequent threat to traditional equations of power politics might have troubled many ruling forces. The idea of the ‘unity of the oppressed’ is gaining currency among the masses as a potential political alternative, in spite of the constant attempts from ruling elites to suppress it. Though there are still forces at play, that attempt to paint Ma’dani’s politics as a mere ‘communal agenda’, there are an increasing number of people who refuse to get carried away by such dominant narratives. We need to look forward in time to see the development of the ideas that Ma’dani served to the masses, for which he had to endure pain and difficulties of a lifetime.

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