SINCE 1986, Coimbatore city in the state of Tamil Nadu has been witnessing communal disturbances of varying degrees. But, they involved neither rioting nor looting. After the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, violence erupted in the city. Nevertheless, the situation was then contained without any further flare-up. But, in November and December 1997, following the murder of a traffic policeman, the premier industrial city witnessed a communal conflagration unprecedented in its history. It took its toll on lives and properties. Rapid Action Force arrived in the city to control the situation, and remained deployed permanently since then. On February 14, 1998, the city was subjected to the most devastating attack of bombings Tamil Nadu had ever witnessed. Competitive communalism was to be blamed for this most deadly attack. For days after the explosions, Coimbatore looked like a ghost town with business establishments, shops and roadside stalls remaining closed. It took many years for the city to return to normalcy. Again the city became tense in September 2016 following the murder of Sasikumar, a spokesperson of Hindu Munnani. During the funeral procession, a mob went on rampage. After the Modi government assumed office at the centre, the city has witnessed three bandhs.
Both majority communalism and minority fundamentalism richly feed on each other. The frequent communal tension, intolerance, murders and violence following animosity between these forces has disturbed the peace and communal harmony in the city.
In such a situation, like minded political parties and organisations that cherish the ideologies of Marx, Ambedkar and Periyar came together with a view to bringing the city back to its old glory of peace, and communal amity. In the course of forming an organisation for this purpose, they had a few rounds of discussions. Ultimately, they decided to rope in all the secular and democratic parties into its fold. Now on August 21, 2017 they have launched it in the name and style of “Kovai People’s Forum”.
When the city police denied permission for conducting a public meeting, they had to knock the doors of the High Court. But, the Court was not giving the decision swiftly. As ‘Ganesh Chathurthi’ was fast approaching, it was decided to register the voice of unity before the communal forces attempted to use the occasion to flare up communal hatred. Hence, a hall meeting was conducted in the city on August 21, 2017.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat, DMK MP Kanimozhi, Viduthalai Siruthaigal founder president Thirumavalavan, CPI former MP K Subbarayan, district Congress leader Mayura Jayakumar, MDMK leader R R Mohankumar, Thanthai Periyar Draivda Kazhagam general secretary K Ramakrishnan were among those who participated in the programme. While inaugurating the forum, Prakash Karat congratulated the parties and organisations for their timely efforts. He was sure that this forum would protect not only the unity of the people in this city, but would also serve as a driving force for forming such fora at the national level, so that the unity of people and the secular fabric of the country could be well protected.
The massive participation by the constituent parties and organisations went a big way in reassuring the people of Coimbatore as to protection of peace and amity of the people. The forum has decided to take many steps as would isolate the communal and fundamentalist forces; they may include conducting surveys, organising ideological workshops etc. All these may go a long way in isolating the dark forces of communalism and fundamentalism.