Come Hindu festivals like Diwali, Navratri, Holi, Sri Ram Navami etc the media in a coordinated manner questions the significance of these Hindu festivals, and its associated memoirs and beliefs under the guise of ‘intellectual and progressive’ debate. This phenomenon was witnessed even in regional channels, where thousands of Hindu middle-class women, children family were chanced to watch these programmes only to get impacted. Their continuous tirade offending Hindus went awry at a stage and caused heart burn among millions of Hindus. The anger among Hindus of all class and sects was boiling quietly. This vigorous presentation by the leftist groups was witnessed particularly in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Such debates were arranged under the guise of fighting superstition, but conveniently ignored the exorcist practices and obscure beliefs among Muslims and Christians.
16 Years ago, on 6th August 2001, in the Moideen Badusha Mental Home in Erwadi Village in Tamil Nadu, a devastating fire accident that killed 28 mentally ill patients in a hapless condition. When the fire broke out all these mentally ill patients were tied to bamboo poles, inside a thatched hut with shackles and they had no chance to escape and even other inmates could not help them as they were all tied with iron chains. People had no option but to watch helplessly when the fire spread like a forest inferno and burnt them alive amidst their innocent cries for help. These unfortunate humans were mentally ill patients and were in that home supposed to be under supernatural treatment.
Erwadi is a village in Ramanathapuram District in Tamil Nadu, just 150 KM from Meenakshipuram, where the infamous conversion of Hindus to Muslim fold that took place 35 years ago when Smt Indira Gandhi was PM of India. Unlike Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi, she did not ignore the conversion, fearing a backlash from the contemporary liberals in the media, but sincerely felt dejected and visited Meenakshipuram to soothe the situation. However, it’s an alien story here, though the geography of both areas is very much relevant in the context of our study of Muslim conversions in TN is concerned.
This tragedy occurred in the Erwadi Dargah premises. The belief of curing the mentally ill was mechanically created by the founders of the Dargah with an intention to convert gullible poor Hindus in this sick region of Tamil Nadu.
Why was the Ervadi Dargah constructed by Quthbus Sultan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Valiyullah from Medina, Saudi Arabia? One should know this first hand before we further go into the controversy! The back-ground history is full of bloodshed. It was during the Islamic invasion of South India, particularly the southern part of Tamil Nadu.
Year 530 Hijri (the year 1130 CE) – The Moroccan origin Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Valiyullah, the Sultan of Quthbus from Medina landed in Tamil Nadu, India. Some reports suggest that the Dargah was built some 400 years ago. However, the year 530 Hijri corresponds to 12th Century CE, but the exact date of construction of this Erwadi Dargah is not clear.
Quthbus Sultan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Valiyullahal, king from Saudi Arabia came to Erwadi during 530 Hijri year when it was under the reign of Maharaja Vijaya Regunatha Sethupathi, King of Madurai.
Altogether, four Dargahs were built here to commemorate the family of Syed Aili. Though the King of Madurai, Sethupathi Maharaja after a lot of initial resistance donated 6000 Acres of land in token of good gesture to Syed Ali Sulthan. The local Hindus fell to his magical spells and started converting themselves to Islam. The later King Vikrama Pandyan who succeeded, could not stomach the fact of his own people (Hindus) getting converted to Islam. Hence, he showed up stiff resistance and hence broke out a fierce war. In the war, Vikrama Pandyan killed Seyyed Ali, his entire family and the army. This war was preceded and was followed by many other bloody conflicts between the Pandyan Kings and Muslim invaders from Medina, who reached Southern India with the sole aim of spreading Islam.
How the fire broke out in the Erwadi Dargah, is still not clear. Yet 28 innocent mentally ill people perished. And the sheer apathy of the so called atheists, Marxists, Communists, rational thinkers was intolerable.
Sheer irrational belief draws huge crowds of mentally ill people to this Dargah at Erwadi in Tamil Nadu even now. When hundreds of patients arrive every day, they are housed in small thatched huts, often 10-15 people in a hut together. 3 to 4 patients are tied together. If one patient needs to attend a call of nature, the rest of 3 or 4 must move along with him together, and return to the hut. They hardly take bath daily, but once in a week or two in the local tanks. Skin diseases, fungal infections are common. The inmates are malnourished and they mostly depend on visitors offerings to fill their hunger.
When it comes to treatment part, there is absolutely no medical treatment available here, for the simple reason it is not an asylum to mental patients or a ‘mental hospital’ It is a Dargah, where pure belief brings the mentally ill patients here and they simply wait for the divine dream to get cured overnight. That divine dream call may come in months or in few years or never.
Some other Dargahs in India are famous for treating mental illness patients as well. The method is no different from Erwadi Dargah. The inmates are chained and inhuman treatment is meted out to them.