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BJP, League join Antony’s ‘miracle’

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 6: The minority and majority communities have inked an agreement here to rehabilitate nearly 400 Muslim families which were forced to flee a beach in northern Kerala after a carnage in which eight Hindus were killed in May.

The BJP, the Hindu Aikya Vedi, the Araya Samajam, the VHP and the Indian Union Muslim League reached an agreement on the rehabilitation package on Sunday. The talks were mediated by Gandhi Peace Foundation chairman P. Gopinathan Nair.

According to the agreement, the cabinet will consider the demand of Hindu outfits that a CBI probe be ordered into the incident at Marad. Those affected by the violence want the bureau to probe the conspiracy behind the massacre, the inter-state connections of those responsible for the violence and their extremist links.

Hindutva outfits had blamed the local Muslim families for the violence and forced them to flee.

The government will provide an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed. The badly injured will receive Rs 500,000 each, and the other injured Rs 300,000 each. A member from each bereaved family will get a job in a government or semi-government organisation.

The government will also work out a special Marad infrastructure development package, set up a coast guard station at Beypore — the key coastal town in the area — and a new police station at Marad. The assailants had sailed in from the sea to carry out the killings.

The fisheries department will provide relief to those whose houses and equipment were damaged in the violence. All police cases relating to the statewide post-Marad violence will be withdrawn.

Terming the agreement “historic and a virtual miracle”, chief minister A.K. Antony said he will take up the demand for a CBI probe at the next cabinet meeting and take a decision after considering the legal ramifications.

The Left combine and the K. Karunakaran faction of the Congress cried foul. Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan and state Congress chief K. Muraleedharan, now in Delhi, called it “a total sellout and the government’s abject surrender to Hindutva forces”.

BJP state general secretary P.P. Mukundan said he was satisfied with the agreement and the government’s response.

The contours of an agreement were reached at a conference in Kozhikode last Thursday, but the finer points were worked out during marathon talks on Saturday and yesterday, held in Antony’s official residence. The move had the backing of Muslim League chief Panakkad Mohammed Ali Shihab Thangal.

Cong rebels adamant

Muraleedharan, summoned to Delhi after the Ernakulam bypoll loss, stuck to his demand for Antony’s ouster. He has met senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, R.K. Dhawan and L.P. Sahi, who heads the panel probing the debacle. He said unless Antony is removed, the party cannot hope to win in the state.

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