Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Exclusion of Muslim ghetto: Untold story of a much celebrated Kerala Govt. housing scheme for fisher-folk

As it has turned habitual for Kerala’s pro-regime propaganda mobs to conduct periodic resurgences of the romantic notion of Kerala Model, anyone in close observation of things would hardly find it surprising to see a sudden recurrence of the same triggered by the accomplishment of a Government housing scheme supposedly for the fisher-folk in disaster-prone areas. Of greater interest is that it coincided with the unveiling of the controversial Patel statue in Gujarat opening a fresh opportunity to re wake the discourse of Kerala Model as opposed to, and as the sole viable alternative for, whatever the collective morality finds objectionable. Any voice of dissidence in this moment of judgement is bound to attract the wrath of proud Malayali Leftists, a matter of certainty as it seems to the common sense.

Straight to the facts, the aforementioned housing scheme for fishermen families was originally conceived in 2015 as beneficial to the people of certain localities deemed to be vulnerable to coastal hazards.  The Thiruvananthapuram District Collector’s draft report submitted to the Department of Fisheries in fact starts with the village of Beemapally – the Muslim fisher ghetto – and proposes to include sixty-two families from the locality.

The order issued by the Department dated to 3 May, however, contains no mention of Beemapally. An in-depth journalistic story by MediaOne TV reports that the people of the locality, most of them being Muslims, were excluded systematically from the span of beneficiaries through administrative procedures for unjustified reasons, detestably after their applications being received.

In the housing projecting, constructed 192 houses , not a single house was allotted to any of  the fisherfolk from Beemaplly, the first ones who registered for the same scheme.

Maktoob Media and Keyboard Journal have reported this being in view of the possibility of social frictions that could arise from their adjacency to residents of other localities namely Cheriyathura and Valiyathura in Thiruvananthapuram.

In protest over the grave injustice inflicted, people had formed an action committee pressing the government authorities to announce a fresh rehabilitation programme for Beemapally. Although the Minister of Fisheries, J. Mercykutty Amma, had agreed to commence the proceedings by July, the state of reality is still found to be crawling behind promises.

‘This is reminiscent of how the Kerala police targeted and killed six Muslim fish-worker youngsters in Beemapally on 17th May 2009 – again when the Left front was in power – and the civil society largely remained silent and the administration got away with it’

Bobby Kunhu, lawyer, writer & researcher based in Kerala posted on Facebook.

It was on the May 17 in 2009 that the Kerala police opened indiscriminate fire on the Muslims of Beemapally who were mostly fisherfolk, killing 6 people. 27 people were wounded in the firing. Most of them were wounded by gunshots. The police action was widely criticised by human rights activists and Muslim organisations.

Beemapally, as usual, makes a typical case of how Muslim communities inhabiting marginal habitats are deprived of rights and entitlements under state’s discretionary powers in authoritative allocation of welfare values among its subjects. Moreover, it puts in peril not just the legitimacy of a failed paradigm of development that unfolds through histories of communally motivated social configurations and re-configurations but the very honesty of the celebrated, if not manipulated, secular psyche that Kerala’s progressive self boasts of!

Compiled by Hisham Ashraf, graduate student of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi


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