Marad: Religious unity among the convicts
By Saritha S Balan / ENS - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
18th August 2012 08:36 AM
Time has changed them too. And now they realise that religion is not worth shedding blood for. The 42 convicts of Marad massacre have set a rare and unique example of harmony.
Thirty-six of them are Muslims and the rest Hindus who had been convicted for murder followed by a communal riot.
The convicts who had been shifted from the open prison at Cheemeni to the open prison at Nettukaltheri one month ago do not show even the slightest signs of hatred.
The Hindu convicts take the holy fasting days as an opportunity to help the Muslim convicts to perform their prayers and rituals.
“We have learnt a lot. Our ignorance made us culprits. Now we realise that religion has nothing to do with humanity. Now we love and respect each other,” said one of the convicts whom ‘Express’ met at a function held at the prison.
S Asok Kumar, Superintendent of the open prison at Nettukaltheri, said, “The open prison has one annex at Thevancode. When they were shifted to the prison from Cheemeni, I thought of housing the convicts of two religions in two prisons. We planned to house those belonging to one community at the main prison at Nettukaltheri and those of the other community at Thevancode annex of the prison. But all of the 42 unanimously requested that they be housed in one prison. Now they are living in the same block.”
The breaking of fast, the five times ‘Niskarams’ etc by the Muslims are watched with due to respect by the six Hindus and they have developed a rare brotherhood. The Hindus were more enthusiastic in participating in the Iftar arranged at the prison on Tuesday.
“The Hindus among the convicts are more concerned about the fasting and all. The convicts of both the communities even recommend each other for better facilities. Life in the prison has changed them a lot, ” said the prison superintendent.
A Devadas, superintendent of open prison at Cheemeni, shared the same opinion.
“They never showed any hatred or even dislike towards each other. They were repentant about what had happened in the past,” said Devadas.
They were shifted to the Cheemeni prison from the Central Prison, Kannur, three months ago. They were brought to Nettukaltheri following an order from the prison department that convicts of murder cases in which more than two people were killed and who were housed at prisons in north Kerala should be shifted to prisons in south Kerala and vice versa to avoid local contact.
The massacre in which nine people were killed was the result of a communal riot that occurred in May, 2003. Sixty-two of the 139 accused were convicted in 2009.
Out of them, 52 were shifted to Nettukaltheri from Cheemeni.
It was on Thursday that 24 more accused , who had been acquitted by the lower court, were awarded life term by the High Court.
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