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Muslims return to Marad, and so does peace
George Iype in Marad | October 10, 2003 22:15 IST
Last Updated: October 11, 2003 00:47 IST
Peace has finally returned to Marad, a coastal village in Kerala's Kozhikode district where 9 fishermen -- eight Hindus and a Muslim -- were killed in a mob attack on May 2.
On Friday, 72 of the 400 Muslim families that fled to government relief camps after the attack returned, thanks to a peace plan that Chief Minister A K Antony chalked out this week.
Representatives of various Gandhian organisations escorted them home.
"I am happy to be back. We have been living in fear all these months. We have no anger against anyone in the village," said Fathima Beevi, 55, who came with her three children.
"We were never against peace in Marad. The problems arose because politicians mingled here and everyone opposed everyone else," said P K Muralidharan, a local teashop owner.
"We hope peace will reign here forever," T H Mustaffa, a local Muslim, said.
The sight of a few Hindu locals cleaning the wells of their Muslim neighbours was indicative of the fact that everything was normal.
But there are enough reminders of the killings: chairs in wells, broken windows, demolished houses.
The government has sent workers to clean up the village. The houses are being painted, windows are being changed, and rice and other essential items are being distributed to all those who come in.
"Marad is on the peace track from today. Nobody can destroy it," said Kerala's Principal Secretary K K Vijayakumar, who is supervising the rehabilitation.
Calicut District Collector T O Sooraj, another officer involved in the resettlement, said the rest of the Muslims would be back in four days.
"There has been no resistance to the resettlement so far. We are now confident that both communities will live in peace and harmony," he told rediff.com
As a precaution, the district authorities have deployed nearly 8,000 policemen in Marad, situated on a beach.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad-led groups had opposed the rehabilitation programme. After Antony agreed to their demands -- which included a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the killings and Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) compensation to each Hindu victim's family -- they withdrew their objections.
K Dasan, president of the Arya Samajam, the main group that opposed the rehabilitation, said, "We have never said that the Muslims in Marad are bad. The serious communal problem arose here because of some dubious Islamic groups."
More reports from Kerala