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|January 27, 1999
The unholy fire spreads to Kerala
D Jose in Trivandrum
The Kerala police are searching for 30-year-old Babu alias Pradeepan, mastermind of the attack on three Christian seminary students at Vadakara in Kozhikode, 450km from the state capital Trivandrum.
Babu is among the three persons wanted in the case.
The police arrested the remaining seven. They have been remanded to judicial custody till February 8.
Another 52 RSS activists are also in custody till February 8. They were arrested for raising provocative slogans during a procession to protest against the arrest of the seven Sangh activists.
Sources in the Vadakara police station said the key suspect, a native of Kuriyadi in Kozhikode district, was a hardcore RSS activist who is believed to have been trained in Sangh Parivar centres in Nagaland. Babu used to visit Vadakara every now and then to organise RSS activities. He had come to the town a week ago, allegedly to attack Christian missionaries active in the area.
His followers had warned the missionaries against converting Hindus. They had threatened Father Johnson Thekkayil, a priest of the Evangelical Church of India, to which the three students belonged.
The three missionary students -- Jayakumar of Parassala, Shajikumar of Neyyattinkara and Pratapan from Mattannur -- stayed in a rented house. They were waylaid while returning from the house of one Justine, where they had gone for prayer, by the RSS activists and attacked with iron rods and other lethal weapons. They were discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and sent to the mission house with heavy police protection.
The locals, who may know the assailants, are not co-operating with the police, probably for fear of the RSS, said a sub-inspector.
The RSS activists had reportedly targeted Justine. In fact, they had threatened people who had contact with him. An auto driver, Kittan, who used to visit his house, was the RSS's victim recently -- they set fire to coconut fibre stored in his house.
The Vadakara incident, considered a sequel to the ongoing violence against Christian missionaries, has evoked strong criticism from various quarters.
Condemning the attack, the district leadership of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) has demanded stern action against the culprits.
Northern Range Inspector General of Police Jacob Punnose said his force would take stringent action against those who tried to disturb the communal peace in the state.
Meanwhile, the RSS has protested against the arrest of its workers. RSS leader A M Krishnan said the incident was proof that the CPI-M and the Christian missionaries are involved in a conspiracy.
What had happened at Vadakara was an isolated incident of Hindu youths questioning the activities of Christian missionaries, which was blown out of proportion, he claimed. He alleged that the missionaries had approached Chief Minister E K Nayanar against the attack instead of lodging a complaint with the police. The order for the arrest of the RSS workers came from the top, he said.
The Vadakara attack is the first of its kind in Kerala since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government came to power at the Centre. Earlier some missionaries were attacked at Nambikolli in Wyanad district. This, the BJP had alleged then, was a conspiracy by the CPI-M to sully its [the BJP's] image.
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