The culpable humiliation shown towards the body of artist Mahesh alias Ashanthan and the caste wall of Vadayampadi prove how meaningless and fake are the expressions such as renaissant Kerala and enlightened Keralite society which we proudly boast of.
Both the conflicts took place with the involvement of caste and political outfits in the name of the sanctity of the temple. What has let loose the social stench is the depth of the perception regarding purity/impurity engraved in the minds of generations whose ancestors proudly uphold the tales of democratic battles which took off from temples against the discrimination of people based on colour. It is natural for the Sangh Parivar which breathes communal politics to be its beneficiaries. However, this also reveals the sentiments of casteism deeply entrenched in the minds of those who brag about the ideologies of secularism and anti- casteism. Congress councillor Krishnakumar has been arrested in connection with the controversy for insulting the body of Ashanthan. And the finger of blame for denying entry to Dalit families, while giving almost an acre of revenue land in Vadayambadi to the NSS, gets pointed at the E K Nayanar government of 1981.
The keeping for public homage of the dead body of Ashanthan, who had been arts and architecture teacher in Fort Kochi Arts Gallery and Edappally Changampuzha Memorial Library, for public homage in the Ernakulam Darbar Hall was objected to by Ernakulathappan temple administration. The reason for their objection was that it would desecrate the temple. It was when he people's representatives, Academy officials and the police endorsed that stand, that Ashanthan had to move as a dead body through a plot of land that he had never traversed. The Durbar Hall in Ernakulam had seen the dead body of famous people for public view. But since they were all 'pure' not only by action but also by birth, it didn't hurt anybody's shudhi, and no one rose to stop it. In fact, when disrespect was shown to the dead body of Ashanthan, cases should have been registered on the grounds of caste discrimination, and torture of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe. But as of now the cases registered are on the counts of joining in unlawful assembly and of shouting abuse. How shameful goes the enforcement of law regarding caste discrimination!