Muhammed Riyas, 30, a Madrassa teacher was hacked to death by a gang at his room adjacent to Mohiyudeen Juma Masjid in Kasargod on 20 March, triggering suspicions that it was a cold-blooded murder with communal undertones. Soon, the doubts were proved true, when the police found that the perpetrators picked their victim randomly to venge a clash with youths belonging to other community. The Madrassa teacher from Coorg had nothing to do with the tension, but fell victim to the hatred of the other.

Local legislator NA Nellikkunnu was quick to realise that the murder was an attempt to fan communal riots in the sensitive district. Riyas was the 8th victim of communal hatred in the northern district of Kerala in the past ten years. Crime records stand testimony to another disturbing trend- no one has been punished in communal crimes in the district in the past ten years. As many as 469 cases of communal violence have been registered in a decade from the sensitive district.  

A minor tension in any part of the district could trigger fears of a communal trouble as religious bigots would instantly smell blood. When 28 cases were reported in 2007, the number of communal clashes had a panicking rise to 152 in 2011. As many as four people were killed in 2008 alone, most of them were hapless victims who had nothing to do with the incidents took place somewhere else. Many people were maimed and numerous others are living with the deep wounds of religious hatred.

Communal clashes in Kasargod
(year and number of cases )

  • 2007-  28
  • 2008-  36 (4 deaths)
  • 2009-  61
  • 2010-  22
  • 2011-  152 (2 deaths)
  • 2012-   93
  • 2013-   45 (1 death)
  • 2014-   16 (1 death)
  • 2015-   07
  • 2016-  09
  • All accused in 125 cases were let free. Investigation in other cases are either dropped or are dragging.

  • Ismail, a fish worker of Kumbala, is still lamenting his son Muhammad Azharudeen's death, seven years after a group of men hacked the young man to death.  Azharudeen was waiting for bus after work when he was chosen by the attackers as a possible victim to avenge their anger. They executed him at the spot, without any mercy.  "Why did they kill my son? He had nothing to do with clashes," Ismail regrets.

All the accused walked free three years back, for want of evidence.

Just as in Azharudeen’s case, culprits in 125 cases, including murder cases, were let free in the absence of evidence and witnesses, trial in other cases are dragging.

Sreejith, in his 30s, was a daily wage worker. He was returning home from work when fate struck him six years back in the form of a stone pelted by a communally charged mob at Kanhangad. He was left paralyzed after the incident.

Now, even after a prolonged treatment, he could barely walk without help. After the lone bread winner fell, the burden of earning a livelihood fell on the shoulders of his old mother.

“My son was bound to bed for years,” says Vellachi, mother of Sreejith. “Even now, he can’t take food without help.” Sreejith has recovered partially. But, he is starting at an uncertain future.  

Sufferings of the victims and their families have no end. But the laxity of the law, the complicity of the religions and the dangerous game of compromise politics ensure that the culprits escape the law. No one is apparently worried about the dangerous implications nursing hatred.