By Shafee Ahmed Ko, TwoCircles.net,
Eruvadi (TN): Arafat, Shajahan, Umar Farooque, Abu Backer, Iqra, Hajee, Deen, Madina, and many more like these. Are they titles of Islamic books or any rendition of Islamic scholars? They are incredible names of streets of a Panchayat town where prominent Hindus too live in.
What a fantastic composite people of a small panchayat town Eruvadi in Nellai District in Tamil Nadu where both Muslims and Hindus instinctively or temperamentally are seeking and enjoying the company of each other for a life as gregarious as possible. All avoid trifle or turmoil of any kind of disturbance usually in protest.
A mosque in Eruvadi
As per the records available from 2001 India Census Eruvadi had a population of 14,715. Males constitute 46% of the population and females 54%. Eruvadi has an average literacy rate of 79%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 82%, and female literacy is 76%. In Eruvadi, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age. Muslims are 90% of the population. Eruvadi is in Nellai district between Tirunalveli and Nagerkoil districts. It’s well connected by road and train. Its nearest railway station is Valliyoor.
Eruvadi has 16 panchayat wards, Muslims represent 13 wards and there are 2 Muslim women out of 3 women panchayat members. S.M. Jalaludeen, a retired P.A. to erstwhile collector acts as the Chairman of the town pachayat.Two Muslim women members are Thaslima Begum, a matriculate and Fareeda Banu is a retired secondary grade teacher. Both go often to their wards and clear the grievances by knocking the doors with higher officials. Both have expedited water connections and matters relating health and hygiene.
The people speak a very chaste Tamil and are very sweet (so chaste as Urdu being spoken in Lucknow). A multi-linguist aficionado will have more to his/her acoustic application rather to the own tongue. There can be no exaggeration if said “Urdu is Lucknow ki sar zameen and Tamil could be Eruvadi’s sar zameen”
Eruvadi has primary, secondary, higher secondary schools and colleges both managed by government and by the local Muslims. They have high standards and quality education. Al Huda Matriculation and Higher Secondary School and PET Engineering College, both are run by Muslim managements. There are about 3000 Muslims students studying in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools and around 200 students study in the PET Engineering College and around 300 more students are spread out to the colleges in Tirunalveli, Madurai, Chennai etc. They are in medicine, engineering and other disciplines.
While India has a wild cry of poverty and grass root level lamentation, Eruvadi is an exception. Schools, colleges deny scholarships on simple pleas that they are all affluent and belong to high rung echelon. What is the covert of the fine phenomena? There is nothing to probe but the obvious fact remains that almost all the Muslim males have high quality education and have migrated to Gulf countries and it is their hard earning sweat that makes the town fertile economically and with a social responsibilities to take care of those who live as “have nots” -- a unique system that does conform to a rule or generalization that "all the town’s people are rich; the only exception is its poor are no more poor with no excluding tests since the rule of the town is, to take care of the poor and this is what missing commonly although Islam teaches Zakat to dissipate poverty.
The success to the story is that the youth of the town stand as a strong rocks and trees and it is the actual heroism from youngsters of the town, the great sacrifice of time and energy and their healthy emotion they experience for the cumulative progress of their living place Eruvadi.
Youngsters of the town
A leading upcoming Muslim political party is gaining upper hand with its young cadres with real enthusiasm and energetic force where no youngster is indolent or an obscured life but a martinet someone who demands exact conformity to rules and forms laid by their party to help the needy in time.
A call of death was received and immediately an ambulance was arranged free of cost. The receiver of the call inquires, “Do you need freezer coffin?” There was another call. This was from a woman from labour spasmodic pangs. An auto-rickshaw was immediately arranged. Niaz and his group of friends are ready spring into action. Despite the party’s fund, a group of like minded friends more than 50 in number have self disciplined system of working. Each house in the Eruvadi feels responsibility towards these youngsters. They contribute a sizeable amount voluntarily. Most of the Ramazan Zakat and gifts pour to these youngsters. The proceeds gained from Bakrid Qurbani skins’ sale is one of the major source of income. The elders particularly the rich feel convinced and relaxed and support the youngsters with all financial help. They have bank accounts and an organization run in a scientific and foolproof system.
Ambulance ready for help
Niaz Ahmed – Hero of the town
Who cares for these medical calls? Niaz Ahmed. Niaz Ahmed and his elder sister are afflicted with myopathy a condition wherein the muscles of the body will slowly be atrophied. His lower limbs and part of his right hand have become no beneficial use or incapable of functioning usefully. But he is the town’s man. Niaz Ahmed has an indomitable will power with inexorable fate which has not deterred him. How does he live? Despite of all these ordeals, he is very vigorous and animated, in a very vibrant group that challenges his failing health system, and he is a charming and vivacious host of good qualities.” I am losing my hands and gaining twelve because 6 friends are around me to help. They lift me to places where I want and they feed me morsel by morsel” says Niaz.
He is self employed. He has an embossing machine which prints rexene leather, costing around Rs. one lakh and he has invested nearly Rs.one and half lakhs. He has government certificate which says that he is 90% physically defective. He says his effort to obtain backing from the government remains futile. But he is the town’s man dealing with the problems of the town.
Youth resolve disputes
Niaz Ahmed showing his art work embossed
Eruvadi Muslims never send disputes such as marital, land, financial to the Jamaat or Police Station despite the town has six Jamaat. They are settled only by these youngsters. Jamaats or police do not interfere in the Youngsters’ judgments since their conclusion is fair. No Kangaroo courts exist nor are high flung usurers to be found in the town. The youngsters are college students, office goers, respected labourers, businessmen of high profile, including auto drivers, whose sole concern is the town’s upliftment. They participate with compulsive social obligation. The town’s jamaats with divided opinions, mostly elderly people, made disputes dragged to several months and the victims had to run pillar to post with their problems unresolved. There were partial judgments, influenced either money wielding or unnecessary forces exerted on a particular party to win. Kangaroo courts were about to emerge. The alert youngsters of the Eruvadi, could not digest this injustice meted and they took the hold and Muslims of Eruvadi in whole, seeing the tremendous success and the quality of handling the matters and unanimously claimed that the disputes should be entrusted to these impartial and loyal young persons and the town. People endorsement of the operation to the youngsters is the entire success story and they are no more novice.
The group of youngsters is speaking not on any recent film released or any idle talk. They all speak how to download a complicated website and they are speaking on body hormones such as androgen and oestrogen and geology, astronomy etc.
Communal harmony under threat
“We are not afraid but worried on particular matter” says Niaz Ahmed, “There are some nefarious elements behind us to cull our religious harmony to remove something that has been cherished between Hindu Muslim fraternities. These elements send outside goondas as auto-rickshaw processionists in times Ganesh Chaturti and Saraswati Poojas and they beat trumpets so heavily in all the Mulims’ streets at Namaz times, it becomes a nuisance. In midnight Muslims’ owned auto-rickshaws and two wheelers were burnt. All Eruvadi Hindus objected and regretted for this kind of vile act and unanimously and harmoniously conducted one bandh to mark our feelings of righteous anger, the only bugging indignation. This morally, socially, religiously reprehensible act will do something as despicable as murder".
Niaz Ahmed further recounts on an "ugly crime" wherein a hale and healthy cook, Hasan Rafee, who had no distress and who never developed any animosity with any one was mysteriously murdered and thrown into a well. His body was said to be unknown. The police sent the body hurriedly to post mortem and buried it in Hindu grave yard. Again the town’s Hindus joined in one day bandh. When asked about this appalling act, Niaz Ahmed says about particular head constable who has been in Eruvadi SB-CID in different post past eleven years. Niaz Ahmed says that he is "a slimy little liar". He hands TCN over the piles of petitions to various police higher officials and saying “they all stand futile”.
The group of youngsters says,” Our ladies are teased in Tirunalveli Bus stand and they are derided saying,” You all from (Kutty) mini Pakistan”. In an angry mood youngsters boil,” Do we belong to Pakistan? These time keepers unnecessarily brand us as Pakistanis which is dire offence on their part”. They all say in chorus that when the Eruvadi buses depart from Tirunalveli, the mischievous time keepers misguide the Muslim women passengers and they constantly tease them. Again there is small waterfall known as Nambiyar. We Muslims are treated as Dalits and we Muslims are not allowed to spend our Sundays there and we Muslims are not allowed to have a dip too.
Evils of Muslim society
They recount the happy days of Ramadan that all thirty days are festive days, the entire house reciting the holy Quran, and Meelad Days as Moulood being performed from Magrib to Isha and sweets being distributed. Boys spoke about Bakrid’s importance and values. They frown when asked about Muharram. “Muharram is fast vanishing now. Past two years we have negated the system since the outside element come in and keep the TASMAC (wine shops) busy. Eruvadi youths say that they took court order to ban the Muharram Aashura processions since the ritual proved to be an entertainment with spurious people drawn from outside Eruvadi. On particular occasion all six muhallahs converge with centralized point, the fakirs with fire pots on their heads and performing optic illusionary magics with thamasha and make the people gullible. The most important thing to get the court order is that townsmen both young and old sensed these outside elements with the garb of holy actors targeted the town’s girls and women while the Muharram “Kaylikkai-Thamasha” (Aashoora) was peak on the tenth day of Muharram lasting well past midnight. Only two years back youngsters obtained the court order banning the Muharram activities in their town.
There are dargahs here. They had huge properties. They all have been under the hands of swindlers now. The Fakirs too were many numbers and we discouraged them. They were in great numbers totally green clad turban and attire with Dayerra beatings. It’s a sort of nuisance since elderly heart patients and sleeping toddlers are frightened with heavy beating of Dayeera”
When asked about Freedom Fighter from this town, Mr. Niaz apologized saying, “Of course you have met my father Jalaluddin, Chairman of the panchayat who had been joint collector here. I understand that he refused to speak to you. He is short tempered. Please forget and here is K.A. Abdul Rahman and he will help you”.
Rahman recounts, “K.M. Mohiaddeen and K.M. Shiek Dawood were staunch freedom fighters from here.”
With all these rosy picture Eruvadi town does not have a bus stand and a railway station.
The nearest railway station is Valliyur.