Saturday, January 27, 2007

மீனாட்சிபுரத்தில் மதம் மாற்றம் ஏன்? - 2.

It was reported that around 1,000 of 1,250 untouchables had converted to ISLAM, a step to protest against the denial of social equality. The rules of social conduct were laid down by the high-caste Thevars, and their infringement prompted harsh retaliation. Conversions to ISLAM had taken place in 1980-81 in some adjoining areas, but they did not provoke much of an outcry from the VHP or any other HINDU outfit, this was probably because the number was not as great as in Meenakshipuram, and also because bitter intercaste relations prevented reaction on the part of higher castes. The conversions in these areas seem to have been a reaction to the social and political humiliation suffered by the untouchables at the hands of the higher castes like the Thevars.

The incident was communally interpreted by the RSS and VHP as 'an act performed by several thousand Muslims, both men and women, from the surrounding areas, who invaded the village and forced the Harijans to convert.' It seems clear, however, that the VHP could not reconcile itself to the issues which were brought to the fore by the Meenakshipuram mass conversions, despite,, the linkages it had drawn in its early years between casteism (rules of purity and pollution) and conversions. The agenda of social reform contained in the original charter had become overshadowed. The VHP's socially privileged and conservative character had much to do with this. That continued oppression by the high-caste HINDUS could lead to a point when untouchables would make a total break from the HINDU fold was something that had little place in the VHP social understanding. This understanding also denied agency to the socially depressed classes, who of their own volition, could detach from a community and join another.

It is this break that a conservative upper-caste HINDU seemed unable to bear and accept-primarily because, it can well be argued, this reveals a store of embarrassments and uncovers many unpleasant facts within HINDU society structured by Brahminical Hinduism(Raj 1993:233).The Meenakshipuram episode was widely publicized by the VHP and other organizations like the HINDU Munnani and the Arya Samaj, after which, it is reported, seven of the converts reconverted to Hinduism(Khan 1991:49). The VHP floated the Sanskriti Raksha Yojana(Programme to Protect Culture) immediately after the incident. In November and December 1982, it launched the Jana Jagrana Abhiyana(Campaign for People's Awakening) to "warn" the HINDUS about "the international conspiracy to devour Hinduism". During this campaign the VHP managed to collect some funds from the public as donations. However, apart from making monetary contributions people generally remained indifferent to the issue.

The 1980s thereafter saw the VHP preoccupied with planning and holding campaigns, conferences and processions at a regional level for "national integration". The issue of religious conversion was much hyped, and was projected as a grave threat to national security and integrity. State intervention was demanded by the VHP to supplement its efforts to check the activities of Christian missionaries.

இதன் தமிழாக்கம்:

தமிழ்நாட்டின் திருநெல்வேலி மாவட்டத்தில் இருக்கும் 1300 மக்கள்தொகை கொண்ட ஒரு சிற்றூர் மீனாட்சிபுரம். அங்கே வாழ்ந்து வந்தவர்களில் பெரும்பாலோர் தீண்டத்தகாதவர்களே. அவர்களில் பெரும் எண்ணிக்கை கொண்டவர்கள் 1981 பிப்ரவரியில் இஸ்லாம் மதத்திற்கு மாறினர். அதனால் ஒரு முரண்பாட்டின் மையமாக அது ஆயிற்று.

இறைவன் நாடினால் வளரும்.

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