Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Kerala: Muslim activist booked under inciting riot charge for lone protest against Babri demolition

Kerala Police on Monday registered a case against a 62-year-old Muslim activist for singly protesting against the demolition of Babri Masjid during the live telecast of the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Trivandrum native Muhammad Salim popularly known as Ottayal Salim for his solo protests, especially against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindutva violence staged a public protest remembering Babri Masjid in Vazhimukku junction of Trivandrum on the afternoon of January 22. Wearing a black shirt, dhoti, and head scarf and holding a placard of Babri Masjid’s photo, Salim addressed the public for minutes using a megaphone against the ceremony which is held on the ruins of the historic Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.

The first investigation report filed by Neyyattinkara Police under IPC Section 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) on suo motu says Salim spoke using a megaphone at Vazhimukku Junction of Athiyannoor village at 2 pm on January 22 intending to create an enmity between two groups. The sub-inspector of Neyyattinkara police station, Sylus D investigates the case.

Salim has also live-streamed his protest on Facebook and the video has garnered hundreds of likes and more than four thousand people watched it.

Salim told Maktoob, “I only came to know through the media that a case has been registered against me by Neyyattinkara police station. So far there has been no communication from the police. I was protesting because democratic secular-minded people like us can never accept the Ram Lalla idol Pran Pratishtha which was held on the ruins of the demolished Babri Masjid.”

“In my speech, I only asked the Muslims to protest by reciting the holy Quran and other democratic secular people to observe the day as black day. My solo protest was done peacefully without obstructing traffic or anyone’s movement. People in the junction listened to me and did not register any protest against me. A home guard on duty was recording my speech which only lasted less than 4 minutes. He might have forwarded it to superiors. I also came to know that two police jeeps arrived there after I left the area.”

Adding that rebuilding Babri is the only solution to serve justice and ensure democracy, Salim said,“ No god can be seated in the temple which is constructed by demolishing democracy. My speech had no intention to cause unrest and it was never provoking or instigating a riot. If the police and government are planning to silence me, they will be futile. I will strongly resist Hindutva fascism.”

Salim also alleged that a group of people associated with Sangh Parivar burst crackers during both day and night time in a street named Pazhayada Lane near Shaligothra Street which also houses Muslims. Sharing the photos with the reporter of the alleged people bursting crackers, Salim asked why police didn’t find it provoking and why a case was not registered against it.

Minority Rights Watch leader and brother-in-law of Salim, AM Nadwi told Maktoob, “This suppression is part of police raj. Helping Hindutva forces to celebrate and obstructing the owners of the Babri masjid when they speak is the contrasting principle of the Kerala government.”

Salim is not associated with any political party but participates in protests of every “non-Sangh parivar party”. He was notable for his sarcastic protest asking for citizenship during the movement against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act by carrying a Kindi (pitcher) claimed to have been used by his ancestors to wash after urinating after a Sangh Parivar leader threatened that Muslims will only get citizenship by presenting Kindi and underwear of their forefathers.

Salim also gained media attention when he protested in front of Raj Bhavan using Amit Shah and Narendra Modi donkeys.

Welfare Party of India (WPI), Muslim Coordination Committee – Trivandrum, Janakeeya Prathikarana Vedhi, Balaramapuram, and local peoples’ collectives have expressed their protest against the action of Kerala police on Salim. Netizens have also criticised the Kerala government by equating the Kerala police action with that of police under BJP-governed states. Salim added that local people will be organising protests in solidarity with him.

“My demand is to fight for democracy and secularism. I don’t care about the police case charged against me. I will be there for people among the anti-fascist front against Sangh Parivar till my death,” Salim added.

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