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Revisiting the investigative report of 1950 Sabarimala Fire attack and the chilling story of the conspiracy behind the attack.

Author: Saiganesh Sritharan
Publication: Myind.net
Date: October 23, 2018
URL:      https://www.myind.net/Home/viewArticle/revisiting-the-investigative-report-of-1950-sabarimala-fire-attack-and-the-chilling-story-of-the-conspiracy-behind-the-attack

In the midst of Sabarimala issue, where some non-believers of Lord Ayyappa and the tradition of Naishtikha Brahmachari with vested interests tried to enter the shrine by using the flawed Supreme Court verdict, people also should be made aware about a completely different incident; a fire attack on the shrine that happened many years before and the investigation that followed the incident.

The year was 1950. The Sabarimala temple’s Sreekovil, Mandapam and the store-room were completely gutted by fire, 15 cuts of violence were found in the door of Sreekovil and the Moorthi was damaged. An investigation was carried out by then deputy inspector general to probe this incident and in this article; we will see the important observations made in the investigation report.

The investigation dismissed the possibility of forest fire being the cause of incident as they were unable to find any instances of forest fire in the nearby forest lands. Damages on door and Moorthi clearly directed the investigation towards a planned attack with vested interests. The possibility of the intention of crime as theft was also dismissed by the investigation as no valuables and ornaments were found missing after the offence. It was concluded that the attack was a deliberate one against the temple and here is the relevant part of the investigation report:

“After having explained that theft was not the motive of the offenders, the next point for consideration is to find out what else is the motive and who could possibly have that motive. From the examination of the scene of the occurrence and attendant circumstances, it was possible to come to a conclusion that the offence was a deliberate one well conceived and executed. There was a touch of open vandalism and desecration was the only purpose. The breaking of the idol after forcibly entering into the Sreekovil by cutting open the door with an axe indicates ferocity. With this background, the whole point has to be viewed. With a view to find out which community had the motive, an unprejudiced view has to be taken and for this purpose it should be possible to prove by reasonable arguments that a particular community alone could have done this.”

To find whether Hindus itself could have done the crime; the investigators hypothetically assumed that Hindus had carried out the offence and found negative results from their observations. The main reason was that only Christians occupied the majority of lands in the nearby areas and even the little amount of Hindu population lacked the knowledge about the forest lands. Only Christians were aware about the forest areas completely as many of them were hunters. The investigation observed that such a crime could be done only by someone with complete knowledge of the forest but the Hindus of the area lacked it. The investigators also interrogated the Hindu groups present during the time of crime and found nothing suspicious and thus they rejected the possibility of Hindus carrying out the offence.  

Before going to core part of the article, it should be noted that the investigation had made a very important observation regarding the caste neutrality of the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple and these words should be echoed everywhere to counter the false leftist propaganda denying the caste neutrality of the temple. Here is the following observation:

“Long before the father of nation preached temple entry for all untouchables, this ancient temple stood as a beacon of light and guidance to the whole India. For example, the low caste Pulaya and high caste Brahmin rubbed shoulder to shoulder and offered prayers in the ancient temple”

Coming to core part of the article, the investigation had made observations about the social situation in the Kerala, where low caste Hindus were converted into Christianity for many centuries and the process is still being continued even in illegal ways. This observation from this investigation can open the eyes of those who still believe that illegal religious conversions and cultural digestion are just myths. The relevant observation made in the investigation report is as follows:

“Certain political reasons in South India, particularly in Travancore-Cochin, the economic downward trend of Hindus and the comparative better economic condition among the Christians and the slow absorption of low caste Hindus into the folds of Christianity due to various reasons which were continuously progressing in this state for centuries, to a certain extent opened the eyes of the Hindus and rightly or wrongly, whether political or non-political, an apparent attempt towards the unification of all Hindus was started by the union of S.N.D.P and N.S.S, which incidentally, though not materially, at least as a propaganda value, raised the feeling of frustration and alarm in the minds of the common Christians, which, perhaps, was responsible for the violent propaganda in the Christian-owned papers and the counter propaganda by Hindus in their own papers. One has to record in all seriousness that the Makaravilakku as stated above was attracting thousands and thousands of devotees, who in all sacredness forget themselves due to ecstasy, travel miles and miles through Christian areas surrounding the base of Sabarimala mountain as a necklace.”

The investigation dug deep into the issue and made an observation on how Hindu unity is a threat for those Christian groups having vested interests of converting people and presented a solid reason for why the attack could be done by some Christians living in the forest area. The observation is mentioned below:

“It is commonsense under this background to presume that the temple with gatherings of large number of devotees was force not only exhibiting the unity of Hindus, but also a check in the gradual absorption of low caste Hindus into the folds of Christianity, and a check against their conversion.”

Then the investigators probed the various groups present during the time of attack and suspected a group of Christian people to have carried out this attack in the name of religion but the investigation didn’t proceed further due to the following reasons.

The first reason was the impossibility of getting eye-witnesses and statements from people nearby. Only wild animals and Christian hunters were present in the forest area near the temple and if at all any witnesses exist, it must be only Christians. The investigation report observed that no Christian would give a statement against another Christian as this was a crime against another religion. The observation is as follows:

In this particular case wherein the religion is involved, it is too much for anybody to expect such evidence to comeout, because the damage to the co-religionists do by speaking the truth is, far more greater than the falsehood they speak denying the knowledge of the offence, which to them is only passing sin which may not prick their conscience forever, as they could always console that they had done it or uttered falsehoods to save their religion which might otherwise be endangered if they had spoken the truth.  It is in this perspective that this case has to be viewed and the investigation having pointed out the concern of Christians, it is out of question that Christians would come out to depose against their own brothers.  It is much more difficult to expect Christians to come out to give evidence against Christians particularly in a case where some Christians had rightly or wrongly destroyed a Hindu temple in the name of religion.

The crime was found and reported only after nearly twenty days of happening as it took place when the temple was completely closed. The report quoted this as another reason for not being able to get any evidence. Here is the relevant part from the report:

“The belated report of the occurrence of nearly twenty days is by itself a circumstance which would dishearten any Police Officer when he is asked to handle this case. Because it is a well known principle in the science of investigation that the earlier the Police Officer reaches the scene, the easier for him to get clues for the investigation. This is another unfortunate circumstance in this case.”

One more observation also has to be remembered from the report and this should be viewed by linking it with another incident that happened many years later. The investigation report says that Christian groups wanted to establish an ancient Church’s presence near Sabarimala for their vested interests. The report says that: 

“Then the Muthalalies and himself went to Nilakkal in search of a Church which they believed to be existing at Nilakkal. Though a search was made, they did not find any remnants of a Church, but they saw only remnants of two or three temples.  It is surprising that at this period of the history of Travancore these muthalalies are searching for a Church on the route to Sabarimala. It may be that either they want to establish by some evidence the existence of a church near the Sabarimala there or to renovate it or they are in search of a suitable place for building a church.  Anyway the desire for a church near the Sabarimala orthodox route seems to have been deeply rooted in their mind as otherwise there was no necessithy  for all these muthalalies to join on this business.  Further, they have sent away the coolies and they have gone alone for this business.  Thus, it can be seen that since some time, the Christians have begun to feel the increasing number of low caste Hindus visiting the Sabarimala temple in ecstasy and devotion, which in all probability they would have thought if not checked would inevitably result, in a check to the growing process of conversion of low caste Hindus to Christianity.  Further, the existence of a church at Nilakkal and Pampakadavu would in the long run attract Christians to colonise the area and thereby they could exploit these fertile regions and improve their financial conditions.

In 1980s, some Christian group had planted a cross near the temple and falsely claimed that it was a 2000 year old ancient cross brought to Sabarimala by St. Thomas. It should be understood from the above observation in the report that attempts to falsely establish an ancient link of Christianity with Sabarimala were happening for years and the incident during 1980s is a similar one.

Even though it is unfortunate that the issue didn’t proceed further after this investigation due to lack of evidences, the observations made in the investigation about the religious conspiracy against the temple should be remembered.

Source of the full investigation report:

 http://firstministry.kerala.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/pdf/bills/Reports/tmple_arsn.pdf

 
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