Former Naxal leader and social activist Najmal Babu aka, T N Joy 72, passed away at Kodungallur on Tuesday. It was in 2015 that he embraced Islam in solidarity with his Muslim fellows and in protest against the anti-muslim programs and policies of Hindutva then prevailing in the country. Since his conversion to Islam, he was known as Najmal Babu. Najmal had earlier said he wanted his body to be cremated as per Muslim customs at the Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kodungallur and it was written by him in a handwritten letter. However, his final wish was not fulfilled as his family members decided and supported the move to cremate his body in a ploy. The Kerala police had to use force to remove activists who protested the decision to cremate Najmal Babu’s body against his wish to be interred at the Cheraman Mosque.
Read the pamphlet released by SIO-MSF-YFDA collective of Jawaharlal Nehru University
The passing of Najmal Babu – formerly known as TN Joy – on Tuesday, 2 October 2018, has left many a friends and comrades deeply saddened. Najmal was a well know leftist intellectual and political activist in Kerala. Generations of activists and communities of resistance were inspired by him and, indeed, will forever be indebted to the spirit of freedom and dignity that Najmal Babu upheld and advocated for throughout his life.
Three years ago, Najmal Babu converted to Islam. His conversion to Islam had multiple meanings, both in terms of politics and personal choice. He continued to study and learn about Islam and interacted with various Muslim communities. Before his death, Najmal wrote a letter to the Cheraman Masjid authority (Kodungalloor) requesting that they bury his body, in line with Islamic norms and customs, when he dies.
Najmal was clear that his conversion to Islam was a strong political statement in the wake of the rise of right-wing Hindutva force, especially after the Gujarat genocide and the demolition of Babari Masjid. The Gujarat genocide and the demolition of Babari Masjid, as well as the continued repression on Islam, Muslims and Muslim communities, was one of the major factors that led Najmal to choose the path of Islam until the end of his life.
However, his final wish – to be buried as per Islamic customs – was not fulfilled as his ‘rationalist’ family and the responsible ‘leftist’ political authorities decided and supported the move to cremate his body in a ploy to secure the ‘secular’ credential of his life. This outright rejection of a minor personal and political choice in the name of rationalism/atheism with the aid of leftist political authorities is typical of Softbrahminical Hinduthwa where you are not even allowed to die as a Muslim or even decide on how your body should be dealt with once you are no longer alive.
In order to commemorate Najmal, we have decided to offer absentee funeral prayer on 4th October at JNU. We have taken this decision to continue the fight for religious freedom for Muslims in India, in line with the spirit of Najmal Babu