The fourth estate is the fourth pillar of democracy. It can set narratives and shape public opinion, deciding which issues warrant public debate and outrage, and which ones die down. Even though it is accountable to nobody, it wields significant influence on society. Such unbridled power should ideally come with an utmost sense of responsibility to present the truth as it were to the public. But unfortunately, some media organizations indulge in yellow journalism and peddle their agenda.
The recent arrest of left-leaning “intellectuals” with prima facie evidence of involvement in anti-social activities has resulted in humungous outrage that even the Supreme Court of India could not ignore. In contrast, when right-leaning individuals are systematically targeted and slaughtered, there is not even so much as a whimper. This is seen from the lack of debate on political killings of RSS and BJP cadre in Kerala and West Bengal, and the more recent lack of outrage over killings in Auraiyya. The left ecosystem has substantially succeeded in portraying the RSS and other mainstream right wing outfits in a negative light, thereby muting the indignation of the general public to the murder of its cadres.
Driven only by volunteers, regardless of their religion or their social stature, the members of the RSS are usually among the first responders at a disaster area. There is no willful fanfare heralding their activity, or discrimination between the people who are helped. Everyone is an Indian and helping them all is sacred duty. So mighty is a Swayamsevak’s zeal for helping his compatriots that he rises beyond his own infirmities to assist them.
Such is the case of one Swayamsevak in particular – Shri Anoop TR – the physically-challenged activist in Kerala, who braved the flood waters to assist his countrymen. But lo! Sometimes, hate and envy play such pivotal roles in ideologies, that even good, brave men such as Anoop are not spared. His face was battered and his prosthetic limb broken all because he was the representative of an organization that has been vilified by political opponents and their leashed media.
I had chanced upon pictures of Anoop on social media, standing determinedly by the relief material that he was to distribute, and 4 days later I saw another picture of his, with stitches to his lip, and a picture of his broken prosthetic limb – the post said he was attacked while engaged in relief operations. I shared that image and sure enough, there was skepticism about the authenticity of the post. I had confirmation from my friends in Kerala that the news was true, yet I could not find a single mainstream media report on the incident. I asked my friends to try every manner of means and put me in touch with this man. For some reason, I wanted to know him. Within 24 hours I had his number. I’m an introvert, I don’t usually call anyone; but this time I made contact. I came to know he speaks only Malayalam and a bit of Hindi, so I got my friends to act as interpreters. After getting to know him, I felt it would be a travesty if he remains unknown. Anoop is the living embodiment of the saying – “No good deed shall go unpunished” and this is his story.
Born in Rural Thiruvananthapuram to Shri. Thankappan and Smt. Rajam, the 39 year old VHSE rank holder and Bosch auto electrical parts repair technician is an unassuming man who finds happiness in doing social work. When he speaks about it, the passion is palpable. He was in quite a lot of pain due to stitches on this lips, yet he was delighted to talk to us. He said a few people have taken the effort to find his number and enquire about his well-being and this was giving him the necessary strength to recover. He spoke with the affection of an elder brother and was kind enough to answer questions despite his suffering.
What inspired you to join RSS?
The love, unity, humility and sincerity of the Swayamsevak brothers in my home Sakha made me affiliate myself with the RSS. Today, my 2 sons also attend the sakha.
How did you lose your leg? How did you return to active RSS duties despite it?
I lost my left leg to bone cancer in 2003. For 1.5 years I was confined to bed-rest, and endured 8 courses of chemotherapy. I survived it all only due to my faith in Lord Shiva, the love of my extended family and friends, and the confidence inspired in me by my RSS brethren. I got married to my uncle’s daughter in 2004. She took care of me and invigorated my spirit to return to RSS activities with even greater enthusiasm.
What activities do you normally undertake?
I have served as the President of the Kadavayoor Panchayat Samiti. I have served the BJP in various capacities and I am currently the General Secretary for the Chirayinkeezhu constituency.
Who attacked you and why?
After transporting 24 trucks of relief materials to the flood affected Chengannur and Pathanamthitta districts, I was engaged in the sanitation drive for 5 days. Following this, I was returning to Chengannur to collect relief materials on 24th August. I was brutally attacked at around 11.30 PM near my house by a gang of 5 members including CPM workers and drug mafia.
The drug mafia gained a stronghold in most districts of Kerala. Youth are getting addicted to drugs and indulging in unspeakable cruel acts to the point that they even stopped differentiating mothers and sisters from their victims, thus bringing great misfortunes to our society. I run awareness camps against this. I directly report these cases with proofs to Special Branch. This made me their enemy. But even if the police arrests them, they are released within hours because of their connection to the local SDPI and CPM leaders, and their top leadership. Moreover, CPM and Congress have been fighting elections promising to connect our area to the area on the other side of some fields. If done, thousands of people of 7 Panchayats would have benefitted by reducing their travel time to reach hospitals and other essential services. This promise remained unfulfilled and CPM and congress kept fooling people for the past 20 years up to until November 2017. What was impossible for them, the Swayamsevaks including myself collected 3 lakh rupees from people on both the sides and made it possible. People were thrilled by this and many became supporters of Sangh and BJP. After this, CPM including the local MLA started targeting me more.
The CPM is afraid of the growing popularity of the Sangh in Kerala. They saw that RSS was gaining supporters in the aftermath of the floods due to the efforts of Sewa Bharati. So they wanted to attack our volunteers including me, and prevent us from carrying out any further relief and rescue operations. Sachin, Sreekuttan, Sabari and 2 others attacked me. They are accused in many cases including murder, and are members of the SDPI.
They tried to slit my throat with curved knives. With an iron pipe they tried to break my skull, but I dodged their attack; but a blow landed on my cheek, dislodging several teeth. I suffered 17 lacerations. My prosthetic leg was broken. The aim of the attack was to kill me. Villagers and colleagues who heard the commotion came running, dispersing the attackers. They took me to the Chirayinkeezhu Taluk Hospital and I was later shifted to the Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram and then to KIMS.
Will this deter you from social service?
Many RSS cadres were killed by SDPI and Marxists. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan himself is named in Vadikkal Ramakrishnan’s murder. Many ministers in Kerala cabinet are accused in murders of RSS activists. But I have no fear to fight against them. I will continue to fight against the drug mafia supported by SDPI and CPM, because I am a Swayamsevak. My family and I are seeing this dastardly attack as a blessing from Mahadeva for instilling greater strength and dynamism into my being to forge ahead with my nationalistic activities of taking on the drug mafia which is destroying the future of Kerala.
Why do you think the media has been silent?
The media in Kerala always conceals the truth and sells news that appeases the CPM and a few extremist outfits. A photo of mine where I was engaged in Sewa activities while wearing a prosthetic leg went viral on social media. Immediately following that, I was attacked by the CPM workers. Fearing a backlash if people come to know the truth, media houses are deliberately trying to hush up the matter.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the people?
Judging the RSS after perceiving it from outside is like a blind man evaluating the form of an elephant. I would suggest that they make an entry into RSS. Let them understand that this colossal banyan tree, with multitudinous branches now functions in several countries all over the world. Let us all unite, without any barriers of religion and caste, for keeping ablaze the resplendence of Bharatamba.
Mata Pita Guru Deiyvam; the new generation must adhere to this concept. Service to society should begin from one’s family and thereafter spread to the state and nation. When one embarks on service to society, it should never become one’s livelihood. A portion of what we earn with our sweat should be set aside for the building of society. It is possible to evoke eternal values like devotion to one’s family and nation, feelings of compassion towards every living being, when engaged in activities of Sangh. Let us all work to restore the Bharatiya percept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu
At the conclusion of the conversation I asked him if he required any monetary help to take care of his medical expenses. He politely refused and said if anyone wants to help, they should donate to the RSS martyrs fund and to Sewa Bharati.
While the reticence of media outlets to run this story can be understood, I am left puzzled by the fact that no official social media handles of the Kerala RSS or BJP bothered to post about it. As on date, after 5 days of constant nagging, the story has managed to appear in Malayalam news outlets sympathetic to the RSS – Janmabhumi and Janam TV (https://janamtv.com/80104383/).
Police filed an FIR under the relevant sections of IPC, a copy of which I have accessed; I am told that the people of Anoop’s village are firmly behind him and are exerting pressure on the police to deliver justice. Imagine, if the assault on a much-loved right wing activist is met with such quietude, what would happen to the truly unknown karyakarta! I have no confidence that justice would be served in their case. It may be argued that the roles are reversed in a right-wing bastion, but I have no doubts that if true, I would want justice for them as well.
In a truly free country, anyone should be able to serve society in accordance with their ideology, within the bounds of the law, without fear of persecution or assassination. To actualize such a society, an impartial media that does not withhold stories based on who the victim is, and police reforms that enable the force to function independent of political control, are absolute essentials. In the meantime, social media must continue its hawk-eyed vigilance.
At a time when people are trying to maximize their gains by playing victim, I am proud to say I met someone who not only refuses to bow down to adversity, but rises above it with a stronger zeal to answer his calling and declines to monetize his situation. Destiny sometimes makes you cross paths with someone who widens your perspective on life. That someone for me is Anoop and I am extremely proud to have made his acquaintance!
Author Name:- Laalithya Konduru
Bibliophile; Fluent in 14 languages; Nritya Shree Award winning Kuchipudi dancer; Sanskrit Vidushi; Medical professional and Scientist. But most importantly, Loves to be fed!
Twitter Id of Author :- @tweety_bird_87
With thanks to Ram Sivasankaran and Aravind Nair