The Democratic Youth Federation of India, the CPM’s youth wing, conducted a “secular” cricket tournament on Sunday in a fitting reply to a plan to conduct a Hindu-only tournament in Kerala’s Kasargod district that police scrapped last month.
The DYFI organised a few other events over the past two days and has lined up more such “secular” sporting tournaments in the state’s northern-most district that adjoins the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district in neighbouring Karnataka.
“The best way to counter such unconstitutional ideas is to go with such secular events,” M.V. Balakrishnan, district secretary of Kerala’s ruling CPM, told The Telegraph on Tuesday, referring to the tournament that was scrapped last month.
“It would be Hindu cricket now and Muslim-only tournament tomorrow. So we immediately launched a campaign against such unhealthy and undemocratic practices.”
A right-leaning local club, Hiranya Boys Bekur, had conducted a Hindu-only kabaddi tournament and had scheduled an under-18 Hindu-only cricket tournament for November 22.
The attempt at segregation came to light when some CPM workers stumbled upon flyers of the youth club in Manjeshwar.
A copy of the flyer shown by Asianet News, the Malayalam TV channel, featured the sentence: “Only Hindu players should play this game.”
The club, with suspected Sangh parivar links, had made it mandatory for all the players to carry their Aadhaar cards, apparently with the dual intention of ascertaining their age and guessing their religion from their names.
Following the CPM’s intervention, the police got the club to scrap the cricket tournament.
Balakrishnan had spoken against such communal events at public meetings in the district. “We assigned the DYFI to handle the (secular) events since it involves youths. But we will keep a very close watch and stop any plan to communalise sports,” he said.
The DYFI sports events are being played under the banners “Vargeeyathakku Kalam Nalkilla” (no playground for communalism) and “Kalikkalangalkku Mathamilla” (playgrounds have no religion).
“Our aim is to defeat such communal agendas in any activities and thus strengthen modern Kerala’s progressive values,” DYFI Kasargod secretary C.J. Sajith told this newspaper.
“We held the cricket tournament at the very same ground in Bayar where the Hindu-only cricket event was to be held. This was done to send a strong message about communal amity.”
Over the past few days, DYFI cadres in Kasargod have organised secular kabaddi tournaments in Kanhangad and Thrikaripur — the Assembly constituency of former CPM chief minister E.K. Nayanar — and scheduled a football tournament in Nileshwar on December 9.
“There will be many more events in football, cricket, kabaddi and volleyball in all corners of Kasargod,” Sajith said.
Sajith is aware of the challenge that lies ahead because of Kasargod’s proximity to Dakshina Kannada district. “Kasargod has traditionally been a very secular place. But Sangh parivar influence from Karnataka has caused a lot of damage,” the DYFI leader said.