Kerala woman embraces Islam days after RSS men killed her son for doing the same

Muhammed Sabith

Kannur: A Kerala woman embraced Islam days after police arrested eight Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) men for killing her son for converting to the religion.

Faisal, whose name was Anil Kumar before he accepted Islam some months back, was brutally murdered near his residence last November. Nearly after a week, police arrested eight RSS men in connection with the murder. Faisal was reportedly murdered because of his conversion to Islam. The accused included Faisal’s relatives and a former military officer.

Faisal, who was employed in Saudi Arabia and was on leave when murdered, reportedly had no enemies. But his close relatives later revealed that Faisal used to get open threats due to his faith change, including from his brother-in-law Vinod, who is now under arrest along with other RSS men.

Faisal reportedly began seriously enquiring about Islam while he was working in Saudi Arabia, and he eventually decided to embrace the religion. He consulted his family back in Kerala before his conversion. And on Faisal’s return to Kerala for vacation in July this year, his wife and three children too converted. This reportedly provoked his brother-in-law Vinod, who in turn approached local RSS leaders.

Some reports, however, say that the decision to kill Faisal was taken when the matter reached a top RSS leader in the district who was accused of a similar murder in the district years ago.

His mother earlier said that Faisal never stopped his close contact with his family even after he changed his personal life style, and that her son was openly threatened by some of his relatives.

Faisal, 32, a resident of Kodinhi, Malappuram, was murdered with sharp weapons during pre-dawn hours on 19 November. Faisal, son of Ananthan Nair, was murdered while he was travelling to Thanur railway station to pick his parents-in-law coming from Thiruvananthapuram. He was about to return the day after to Saudi Arabia, where he was working as a driver for the last six years.

Faisal’s mother told local media that her son’s conversion was with her permission and he maintained cordial relation with her even after his conversion.  “He converted to Islam after getting permission from me. He was in very good terms with the whole family even after he changed his religion. However, Sangh Parivar workers in the neighborhood and some of the relatives were very angry,” she was quoted in local media as saying.

Kerala police on 27 November confirmed the arrest of eight associates and leaders of RSS in connection with the murder. The arrests came a week after the murder that shocked the state. Muslim organizations were cautious about their response to the murder, while most of them demanded a fair probe and culprits be brought before the law.

Leaders of different Muslim organizations that have considerable presence in the district visited the home and graveyard of the victim. But, notably, there was not even a single word beyond the demands of fair and effective enquiry and legal punishment for the killers, prayer for the victim’s soul and announcement of support for the grieving family. Reports say community organizations formed a Joint Action Council and kept themselves away from public protests following the assurance from the police of effective actions.

Police said that all the arrested have been associated with the RSS, including Vinod, the victim’s brother-in-law and Jayaprakash, a retired military man.

P. Pradeep, DySP of Malappuram, who investigates the case, earlier said that the arrests were made following the information on the involvement of the accused in the planning and assistance of the murder. Pradeep also informed the media that the investigators have identified three others who were directly involved in the crime and the police would nab them soon.

Anil Kumar reportedly converted to Islam last May while in Saudi Arabia. His wife and three children too followed his path when he returned home in July. Following this, Vinod, the husband of Faisal’s sister, approached the local RSS leaders Pulikkal Haridasan, Pulikkal Shaji, Chanath Suni and Pullani Sajeesh who are all under arrest now. They in turn contacted other Hindutva leaders and eventually planned the murder.

The assailants, reportedly a team of three, acted following information provided by Thayyil Lijeesh about Faisal’s pre-dawn journey on 19 November to Thanur railway station.

District leadership of BJP, however, told local media that the accused are innocent.