Those opposed to the street name claim that it reflects the spread of radical Islamic ideologies, but locals deny the allegation.

Named Gaza a street in Kasaragod comes under police watchImage for representation only
news Kasaragod Monday, June 19, 2017 - 10:05

As concerns over the possible spread of radical Islamic ideologies are being expressed by certain sections in Kerala, the naming of a street in Kasaragod district has created a minor controversy.

The street in Thuruthí, a village in the district, has been named Gaza Street, after the self-governing Palestinian territory lying between Egypt and Israel.

KP Saikiran reports for The Times of India that the road adjacent to the Thuruthi Juma Masjid was named `Gaza' last month, and was inaugurated by Kasaragod district panchayat president AGC Basheer. “I was not the person who was supposed to inaugurate the street as the area falls under the municipality's jurisdiction. But I had to step in to inaugurate it at the last moment,” Basheer told ToI.

Those opposed to the naming point out that Thuruthi is close to Padane, the village from which around 21 youths went missing in 2016, and were later found to have joined the Islamic State in Syria.

Former district BJP president Suresh Kumar told TNM that Kasaragod is under threat from terror outfits that have been functioning silently. He alleged that many small unknown groups have come up in the district in the recent past.

Another BJP leader P Ramesh told ToI that these days there is a deliberate agenda of renaming streets and roads without informing the municipal council.

With concerns being raised, the naming has drawn police attention as well. When TNM contacted the Kasaragod police, a senior officer said that they had been informed about it and that the area will be under observation.

“We might conduct secret enquiries on why was it named Gaza,” he said.

However, locals asserted that there were other interior roads and even some clubs that have been named after Gaza, and disputed the meaning being assigned to the name.

One local leader told TNM, under condition of anonymity, that there is a club named Gaza Street near Chemnad of Kasaragod, but asserted that the name carries a different meaning for what is a social service group.

“Gaza is a place where people, especially children suffer a lot due to never ending war. Expressing our concern for the people of Gaza, that name is popular in Kasaragod. We are actually against the Islamic State and we believe that they are not true Muslims as they kill people, and create lakhs of refugees with small children living in refugee camps for years. That is why the name Gaza is used,” he said.

This is not the first instance of a controversial name, referring to places in West Asia, being used in Kerala. In Malappuram district, for instance, a hamlet called Saddam Beach in the Tirurangadi constituency has earned some notoriety for its name in the past. However, locals there have also asserted that such naming should not be given a religious colouring, as the name signifies an opposition to what is seen as the US’s imperialist tendencies.