Chennai: Both Ramalingam and his death have posed various questions to people of all faiths, leaders (political and religious), intellectuals and the media.
For the uninformed, Ramalingam, a Hindu by birth and practice, a catering contractor by profession and a PMK functionary, was hacked to death by a gang, hours after he opposed a group of Muslims proselytising in a Dalit colony in Tirubhuvanam, a town near Kumbakonam and famous for silk sarees.
Ramalingam was in the colony Tuesday morning to pick up a few men working for him, in his catering business. When he saw the Muslims speaking about Islam and asking people there to embrace the religion, he raised questions and argued with them. Even as the video of the episode started spreading on social media (it has gone viral now), a gang of four, Tuesday night, hacked him when he was returning home via a Muslim-dominated street, along with his son.
Based on his son’s statement, five persons – S Nijam Ali, Sarbudeen, Rizwan, Mohamed Azarudeen and Mohamed Raiyaz – have been arrested.
While the BJP, PMK and Hindu outfits condemned the incident, a Muslim organisation has reportedly come out in support of the arrested and promised legal assistance to them and financial help to their families. And, prominent political parties, pro-Tamil leaders and majority media houses, which would have escalated the murder into a national issue by this time if the victim had been from a minority community, are, as usual, maintaining silence or doing lip service.
A few ‘intellectuals’ have even started saying that the murder happened because of business rivalry and religion has got nothing to do with it. Alright, let us buy their statement. But, will their benchmark and benefit of the doubt be of the same level if the accused belonged to a Hindu outfit and the victim to a minority community?
Coming back to the video and the questions raised by Ramalingam, he is seen telling the Muslim preachers not to indulge in conversion. “Hindus are not against anybody. We worship our God, you worship yours.”
He adds: “I am ready to come to the mosque and get involved in prayer. Will you accept a Hindu God? I will eat food offered to Allah. Will you eat the food offered to a Hindu God? We are ready to live together, but you are dividing the people.”
Ramalingam tells the Muslims that he can get them houses in his locality, whereas can they get him a house in their area? As the argument heats up, he takes out the cap of a Muslim and wears it, saying he has no problem with it. He then goes on to smear holy ash on a Muslim’s forehead, who immediately erases it. Now, read the heading of this story again.