When I went on a trip to a few of the affected areas last month, when talking to people out there, I could see all signs of this. In Nagapattinam, there were already undertones of this happening. Some reports too had come in.
Now comes a report in the New Indian Express from Kollam. The opening para says: "The covert and overt moves by communal outfits to push their sectarian agenda under the cover of building houses for the tsunami-hit people threaten to vitiate the communal peace and harmony in Alappad panchayat, the headquarters of Mata Amritanandamayi Math." (The full report is appended below.)
This is disturbing; that too in Kerala where people are supposedly intellectually superior; that too in Alappad where the ashram of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is situated.
Can't religion be kept out of all this? Or, in other words, can't social and charitable work be done without the banner of religion? Isn't the work more important than affiliations of benefactors?
Hopefully the "enlightened" people will not let this game spin out of control. And, the mutt will keep itself focused on charity, rather than let itself be caught in an ugly tug-of-war.
Tsunami land turns communal playfield (From New Indian Express)
Friday February 25 2005 00:00 IST
KOLLAM: The covert and overt moves by communal outfits to push their sectarian agenda under the cover of building houses for the tsunami-hit people threaten to vitiate the communal peace and harmony in Alappad panchayat, the headquarters of Mata Amritanandamayi Math.
The mishandling of the tsunami relief work by the government has turned conducive for such forces to indulge in communal games.
The leaders of Sangh Parivar organisations, Missionaries of Charity sisters led by Sr Nirmala of Kolkata and Apostolic Nuncio (representative of the Pope) to India Pedro Lopez Quintana have already descended on Alappad.
The Sangh Parivar has intensified its campaign for leaving the construction of houses in Alappad to Mata Amritanandamayi Math. They suspect that Christian missionaries are trying to have a foothold in the headquarters of the Math by volunteering to construct houses in Alappad.
An organisation called Hindu Raksha Sena has conducted a poster campaign making a call to boycott the visit of Sr.Nirmala, the Mother Superior of the Missionaries of Charities, when she made a visit to a relief camp at Azheekkal last week. Her visit took place under tight police security.
The Hindu organisations have also targeted Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Revenue Minister K.M.Mani for "ignoring'' the Math and Seva Bharathi which were in the forefront of the relief works and for "appeasing'' the organisations belonging to the Christian community.
The Hindu outfits are trying to rope in the Karayogams of Araya community and the Dheevara Sabha which have decisive say on the day-to-day life of the people in Alappad in their campaign. However, the 11 Karayogams in Alappad panchayat have not taken a unanimous stand in extending support to the campaign of the Hindu organisations.
The lapses committed by the government in conducting the rehabilitation works turned a fertile ground for the communal forces to fish in troubled waters.
The delay in starting the rehabilitation work and the failure to chalk out a proper action plan have developed an anti-government feeling among the victims. The exclusion of many deserved people from the list prepared for the distribution of benefits and the inclusion of many undeserved have added fuel to the fire.
According to official sources, certain forces trying to worsen the situation played a role behind in pushing up the number of applications for houses. The government has received over 20,000 applications for building 2000 houses. Of the 2000 houses, 1,300 have been allotted to the Amritanadamayi Math.
Out of the total 992 houses planned for construction in the first phase of the rehabilitation in the 1 to 6 wards of Alappad panchayat, Mata Amritanandamayi Math had been allotted 495 houses. The other organisations allowed to build houses are: CBCI (75), CASA (31), Infam (10), YMCA (9), KCBC (127), KSEBOA (I) and other NGOs(244).