Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kerala homes: Not welcome

Hosts: Around 350 houses in the village had posters pasted on their doors with the keep-off message

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 8.01.20, 3:01 AM
  • Updated 8.01.20, 3:01 AM
  • 3 mins read
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A poster in Kerala asks BJP workers not to enter (Sourced by The Telegraph)

Hundreds of homes in a Kerala district have barred entry to BJP and RSS workers who are on a mass-contact drive to canvass support for the citizenship law.

The resistance to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has come in the form of posters that make it clear that the campaigners are not welcome.

Till Tuesday evening, around 350 houses in and around Karadi, a village in Kozhikode in north Kerala, had posters pasted on their doors with the keep-off message and a call to scrap the act and reject two other planned measures, a National Register of Citizens and a National Population Register.

The posters begin in English by declaring “Revoke CAA, Reject NRC, Reject NPR” and then switch to Malayalam: “We are fully aware that this law is against the Constitution. BJP-RSS workers need not come here to explain their support to this.”

The notices carry a big stop sign too, just in case the pro-citizenship act campaigners miss the text.

Similar posters have started appearing in other parts of the district as well.

“We started this yesterday (on Monday) after the BJP and the RSS began sharing pictures of poor Muslim men and women made to pose with their pro-CAA booklet,” Azad Karadi, a local functionary of the Muslim Youth League, the youth wing of the Indian Union Muslim League, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

“What we found objectionable is that the campaigners misuse the welcome extended by families from all communities. In many cases the families tell the BJP workers about their opposition to the citizenship law. But they click pictures while handing over a pro-CAA booklet and circulate them on social media, giving the wrong impression that Muslims have welcomed it,” said Azad.

“Forget the ordinary folks who are so simple they can’t stop them from taking pictures. The BJP even misused such photos taken after visiting the homes of our MLA and a Sunni leader,” he said, citing the two instances that landed both in trouble on Monday.

The BJP social media cell had circulated pictures of Karat Razack, the Left Independent MLA from Koduvalli in Kozhikode, and Nasser Faizi Koodathai, the state secretary of the Sunni Youth Movement, part of the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, an influential organisation of clerics and scholars. Both were seen in pictures taken while handing over the booklet.

They later explained they could not stop the campaigners who visited them, but clarified their stand against the CAA, NRC and the NPR.

Razack didn’t face any major issues other than some media reports, but Koodathai was suspended by the powerful Sunni Muslim group, although he explained what really had happened.

“While Kerala is known for communal amity, these people have been misusing the decency of people who welcome them home when they knock on the door. We started this poster campaign to tell them they are not welcome to our homes to discuss the CAA,” said Azad.

Hindus, Muslims and Christians have welcomed the posters. “We take their permission before sticking the posters as we don’t want to misuse our friendship with the families,” he added.

Lawmaker Razack, who faced a lot of questions on Monday after his picture went viral, welcomed the poster move.

“Never did I expect them to circulate the picture. I welcomed them as I would welcome anyone. But it is improper to circulate such pictures as it would give a wrong impression that Muslims and Leftists are supporting the CAA,” Razack told this newspaper.

The opening day of the contact programme had landed the BJP in embarrassment in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, when Union minister Kiren Rijiju called on Malayalam writer George Onakkoor who had earlier backed the BJP in seeking a CBI probe into a double child-rape case.

What Rijiju and other state BJP leaders faced instead was a lesson on secularism and why Muslims shouldn’t have been excluded from the citizenship act, which fast-tracks citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

This is not the first time that posters reflecting people’s anger at the BJP have come up in Kerala.

In a similar campaign in 2018, many families had pasted handwritten posters at their gates banning entry to BJP activists after some party workers were arrested for raping and killing an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu.

The posters in Malayalam, saying “Girls below the age of ten live in this house, BJP workers are requested not to enter”, were then seen in several places in south Kerala.