May 2: Eight people were killed in rioting today between two communities in Kerala, a state with India’s best record for social reforms and little history of communal riots.
The riots in Marad beach area of Kozhikode district in north Kerala appeared to be the handiwork of certain sections that were not abiding by the decisions of the peace committee functioning in the region since violence broke out in the area in January 2002.
Five persons had died then and more than a hundred houses burnt down in Marad, which is one of the most communally-sensitive areas in Kerala.
Police said the immediate provocation for the violence that broke out around 7 pm today and continued for over an hour was not known.
But initial assessments by law enforcement authorities indicate that it was triggered by sections close to the National Democratic Front (NDF).
An agency report quoted police as saying that the clashes followed heated exchanges between members of the two communities.
More than 25 people, some of them women, were injured and there was widespread damage to property in the rioting. The condition of eight of the injured is critical. All of them have been admitted to the medical college hospital at Kozhikode.
Rapid Action Force units are being rushed to the area. State ministers and other politicians, including those from the Opposition CPM, have rushed to the spot.
The Marad region has witnessed a spurt of majority and minority fundamentalism over the past few months. The majority hardliners have been led by organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, while the minority extremists were led by organisations like the NDF.
The RSS has called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the state tomorrow.