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Last week Tamil Nadu was witness to attacks against three Hindu Nationalist activists. At least two of these attacks (one victim killed and another reportedly grievously injured) are suspected to have been the handiwork of hardcore Islamist organisations operating in Tamil Nadu.

While the two attacks, one in Dindigul district and the other in Coimbatore, may seem unrelated, right-wing activists in Tamil Nadu believe Islamist elements could be targeting political rivals across the state. Their fears are not without basis. From 2012 to 2013 six high-profile right-wing activists were murdered across Tamil Nadu. These included members of the BJP state executive, medical wing head, an ex-corporator, a state secretary of Hindu Munnani (an active Hindu organisation), a district vice President of Hindu Munnani and to top it all: a BJP General Secretary.

The modus operandi of all these murders were quite similar. These activists were subject to gruesome violence by ‘unidentified’ assailants. Petrol bombs would be thrown, followed by multiple stabbing or hacking of the victims. Vellaippan, one of the victims, suffered 26 stabs. Auditor Ramesh, whose murder was particularly gruesome, got stabbed 17 times. It was clear that the murderers’ aim was not just to kill but also to spread panic and terror across the state.

This gory episode of violence targeted against BJP, RSS and Hindu Munnani – all Hindu Nationalist organisations, came to an end following the arrest of ‘Police’ Fakrudin, Bilal Malik, Panna Ismail and two others. Tamil Nadu police had made it clear that these individuals were behind multiple political murders including those mentioned above. Those arrested were involved with the infamous Al-Umma, the Islamist organisation behind Coimbatore bombings that killed dozens of people. They were also implicated in an attempt to murder senior BJP functionaries including LK Advani.

To know more about these Islamist elements and their modus operandi, read this two-part series by Aravindan Neelakandan. Six activists had to pay too high a price for Tamil Nadu’s complacency during the last spurt in Islamist activity. We can only hope that those behind the recent violence are nabbed quickly this time.