Former DGP of Kerala, T.P. Senkumar is creating ripples in political circles even after retirement. Senkumar, who fought a bitter legal battle with the ruling Left Democratic Front government, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to reinstate him as police chief, retired on 30 June. An interview he gave to an online publication a day before his retirement has invited the wrath of the government, with the cyber wing of the Crime Branch registering a case against him under IPC 153(A) for “instigating religious hatred”. If proved guilty, he could be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The magazine, Samakalika Malayalam too has been booked for publishing the same. However, in a letter to the current DGP, Loknath Behera, Senkumar has claimed that he was misquoted by the magazine on some statements regarding minorities and that he had no intention whatsoever to “hurt religious sentiments”. While certain political observers feel that the LDF is unnecessarily dragging the former police chief into a controversy, political parties have condemned certain statements attributed to him. Though Senkumar had only quoted statistics put out by the state government’s economic and political department, he has been accused of speaking for the Sangh Parivar. An earlier contention by the Chief Minister himself that Senkumar had deserted the Congress to embrace BJP, has added credence to this belief. Senkumar has ruled out any intentions to join politics, at least for the time being, but his sharing the dais with senior BJP leader O. Rajagopal and film actor and BJP MP Suresh Gopi at a function in Thiruvananthapuram has given fodder to speculation.
What brought trouble to Senkumar were his comments on the “demographic changes” taking place in Kerala vis-à-vis the “growing Muslim population” in the state. “Of 100 births in the state, 42 belong to the Muslim community, which constitutes 27% of the population. The birth rate of Hindus, which constitute 54% of population, is below 48.5%. The birth rate of Christians, who constitute 19% of the state population, is 15%. If demography is changing in this manner, what kind of change would be taking place in Kerala in the future? Although the Christian birth rate is coming down, their population is not falling because of the conversions they are doing,” Senkumar has been quoted by the magazine as allegedly saying. He is also alleged to have said that a section of the Muslim population still practised “love jihad”. “If religious conversions happen over love, such things would have taken place in all religions. But such conversions happen only in the Muslim community,” he allegedly said. And while talking on religious extremism, Senkumar’s observation that “there is no sense speaking about RSS. One cannot have comparisons between the RSS and the Islamic State,” gave way to widespread belief that he was speaking for the saffron family. “A person who had held such a top post should not have talked in this manner. Only now we came to realise Senkumar has such a mindset,” said P.K. Kunhalikutty, IUML national general secretary.
But how such statements which Senkumar says were “twisted” stand trial is to be seen, as many consider it as a vendetta by the LDF government for embarrassing it by going to court. Moreover, he has sent a legal notice too to the magazine. It is all the more relevant that questions are now being raised about the credibility of the reporter who interviewed Senkumar for the magazine. Fingers are pointed to his antecedents. He was at one time alleged to be close to Abdul Nasser Mahdani, founder of the Peoples Democratic Party and one of the prime accused in the Bangalore blast case. Mahdani is suspected to have links with international terrorist organisations, including Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and is currently undergoing imprisonment. Later the reporter was allegedly associated with a radical Muslim publication and was also involved in “love jihad” cases. How Senkumar chose to give an interview to such a “dubious character” is another question.
The fact remains that Senkumar had only quoted relevant statistics available to him.
Interestingly, it was veteran CPM leader V.S. Achuthanandan, who had not long ago raised the issue that concerted efforts from some quarters were being made to transform Kerala into a Muslim majority state and money and materials were flowing into the state for the same.
CPI, the second largest partner in the LDF, state secretary Kanam Rajendran too had said that a situation is emerging in the state when the minority becomes majority. But these statements were at no time considered objectionable by the state Home Department in the past. Then how come only Senkumar is to blame, is a moot question. The move by the state government to book Senkumar is seen by many as an appeasement measure. The same CPM does not even blink an eyelid when it comes to fielding candidates during elections going by the demographic pattern of the constituency. The question many are asking is: Will the communist parties dare to put up a non-Muslim candidate in any part of Muslim-dominated Malabar?
Action against Senkumar too is generally considered as yet another shot at appeasement of the minority community aimed at vote bank politics by the ruling front.