Kozhikode: Even a mild political change in West Asia is enough to create ripples in the Southern Indian state Kerala. The recent clashes between Palestine and Israel were a hot topic of political discussion here. What is interesting is the fact that many people have found unique ways to sympathise with the Palestinian cause and show solidarity with the people fighting for freedom.
P V Muhammed Marakkar was one among them.
A native of Naduvath village in Kozhikode district, Marakkar had named his house constructed in the 1980s ‘Palestine’. Tension was flaring up between the two nations at that time, and Marakkar, being an ardent fan of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, did not have to think twice to name his house in support of Palestine's freedom struggle.
Three years before the house was named ‘Palestine’, Marakkar’s wife Jameela gave birth to a boy in 1982 and they named him Yasser Arafat.
Marakkar passed away in 2006. The house has since been renovated, adding many new amenities. But it still retains the old name and it shows the family’s love and affection for the Mediterranean country.
An Arafat fan
“My Uppa (Father) was active in local politics and he used to observe international politics keenly. He was a fan of Yasser Arafath and he wanted to see Palestine as an independent nation. He had even written letters to Yasser Arafath expressing solidarity to Palestinian cause'', said 37-year-old Yasser Arafath, elder son of Marakkar.
“Uppa was worried about the struggles of people in Palestine and the troubles faced by thousands of children and women”, said Arafath, who is a civil Engineer by profession.
Marakkar was an employee of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and also served as Kozhikode district vice-president of Kerala Transport Employees Union (KTEU). Marakkar had also associated with the All India Peace Solidarity organisation.
“It was our joint decision to name our first baby Yasser Arafat, who was a global hero during that period,” said Marakkar’s wife Jameela. “For him (Marakkar), Palestine was like his second home country and the people of Palestine were like his family members. We named our second son ‘Azad’ which means freedom as a tribute to all freedom fighters across the globe,”she said.
Kunjali Marakkar connection
Marakkar who was a descendant of the family of Kunjali Marakkar IV, had penned a book ‘Ariyappedatha Kunjali Marakkar’. Kunjali Marakkar was the title given to the naval chief of the Zamorins, or the 'Samoothiris', of Calicut during the 16th century. Kunjali Marakkars were the admirals of the Zamorin.
Arafat said that the latest news from West Asia including the ceasefire treaty between Palestine and Israel brings back the memories of his father. “It is very unfortunate that several people are being killed on both sides, including the death of a Malayali woman (Idukki resident Soumya Santhosh, a caregiver, died in a Hamas rocket attack in Israel on May 11). But, we feel it is time to support the freedom movements in Palestine,” he said.