Fireworks Cocktail of Politics and Communal Venom
KOLLAM: The fireworks disaster in Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala that has already claimed 110 lives is unfolding itself as a deadly cocktail of mofussil politics and poisonous communal venom.
Top ruling United Democratic Front political leaders in the state, acting at the behest of their local cronies with the support of corrupt cops, had permitted the management of Puttingal Kali temple to stage the competitive fireworks display in violation of all safety norms. This after the young District Collector Shainamol IAS, had denied permission for it on the basis of ground reports from the revenue officials.
The Commissioner of Police Kollam P. Prakashan IPS who had only three days ago on April 6 had recommended to the Collector against granting permission for the competitive fireworks display, reversed his own recommendation on April 9 . He did so by citing a favorable report by MS Santhosh the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Chattanur sub -division of the district under which the Puttingal temple fell.
Tragedy struck in the early hours of Sunday, in the dying moments of the show. Sparks from a cracker fell on a stockpile of fireworks in a storehouse, exploding the building and wrecking havoc all around with flying missiles from the by then blazing building, hitting and felling dead those passing by as far away as a kilometer from the site.
Even as rescue teams were still extricating bodies of hundreds of victims of the tragedy and the world was getting to know the details of the disaster, Hindutva cyber warriors were on their job on social sites giving a communal twist to the trgedy and injecting poison in the minds of people.
The following tweet at 8.14 on Sunday morning from the twitter account of one ‘Omkranti RSS’ set the tone for the inflammatory communal campaign . “Big bomb explosion by CPM Muslim terrorists in Kollam Puthingal(sic) Devi Temple hundreds of innocent poor Hindu devotees killed & 1000s injured" Among those to respond to it in ' 'I also thought so' mode was the Hindutva hawk Dr Subramaniam Swamy. Similar tweets followed from the RSSD for India twitter handle account, re tweeted by many including one Malayalam film personality close to the Hindutva fringe in the state .
But the campaign was apparently called off soon, as the lie being sought to be spread on the social media met with resistance from secular minded internet activists who came up the details of the disaster including the circumstances that led up to it .
Their bluff called , lies exposed the Hindutva cyber warriors did a somersault, and started alleging the tweets in the name of Omkranthi RSS and the like were the brainchild of the Vatican Jihadi agents agents and the CPI(M) . Their charge was again drowned in a sea of truth telling facebook posts and tweets, but by the time they gave up, the communal extremists had been able to inject poison into the public mood of grief and mourning following the Puttingal tragedy .
(N. Madhavan Kutty is a senior journalist, former editor of the Indian Express,Kerala)