Muslim League plays key role of a trendsetter in humanitarian, environmental realms — Thangal

March 28, 2018
Hassan Cheruppa

Saudi Gazette

— Political parties can do a lot in preserving the environment and alleviating the suffering of the poor and destitute, especially the sick people among them, according to a prominent leader from the southern Indian state of Kerala. Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal, president of the Malappuram district committee of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), said that his party has been instrumental in giving a new direction and trend-setting for other political parties in taking up humanitarian initiatives and environmental issues. “The decision to focus on humanitarian initiatives by the state conference of CPI (M), the main constituent of the ruling Left Democratic Front coalition in Kerala, held in Thrissur last month, was the latest example for this,” he claimed.

Sadiq has played a leading role in launching the Baithu Rahma or ‘House of Mercy’ as a flagship humanitarian project of IUML. The scheme is named after the late Sayyid Mohammed Ali Shihab Thangal, a towering Muslim leader and former president of the state unit of IUML. “This social welfare program was initiated by the Malappuram district committee, headed by me, in 2011 to build homes for the poor and underprivileged people irrespective of cast, religion and community in the state. After the demise of my brother Shihab Thangal, there was a discussion in the party to launch a landmark initiative to commemorate him,” he said.

The committee decided to build homes for the poor named after Shihab Thangal. There are 100 panchayats and seven municipalities in the district and the decision was to construct 150 homes through active participation of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Center (KMCC), the largest expatriate organization in the Gulf, as well as other affiliated organs of IUML. “The decision was taken in the holy month of Ramadan and the foundation stone laying ceremony of all houses was held on Ramadan 17. The ceremony was held in the presence of prominent figures in each locality irrespective of their religious backgrounds. We were able to finish the scheme within a year, by the grace of Almighty Allah,” he said.

Members of other communities were also beneficiaries of this scheme, Thangal said, citing the example of a Hindu carpenter. “Kelu was behind construction of several huge houses and mansions, especially that of expatriates in Malappuram. However, he had been living in a hut made of flux sheets.”

“We built a home for him under the Baithu Rahma scheme. The most deserving people in each village are the beneficiaries of the scheme,” he said noting that around 3,000 homes have so far been built in Malappuram district alone.

According to Thangal, the Kerala state Muslim League committee decided to expand this scheme to all parts of the state and this was after its resounding success in Malappuram. Around 5,000 homes have been constructed and several others are under various phases of implementation. The Jeddah chapter of KMCC has built around 100 homes, and each house costs around 600,000 rupees.

“The entire strata of the Keralite people wholeheartedly responded to this humanitarian initiative, which has been undertaken enthusiastically by the Muslim League workers with the participation of several other members of the community and financial support of KMCC and other affiliates,” he said.

Highlighting the activities of Muslim League that shed light on its humanitarian face with showing compassion and empathy toward the weaker sections of the society, Thangal spoke about the remarkable contributions of CH Center in lending a helping hand to the sick people, especially terminally ill who cannot afford their treatment cost. “We are distributing medicine, noon meal and dinner, especially rice soup, for these patients and their bystanders free of charge. Our volunteers are also present at hospitals to offer voluntary service for the destitute patients,” he said, adding the activities of CH Center, which began at medical colleges, have now been expanded to district and taluk hospitals. The center is also running free dialysis units to serve the poor kidney patients.

Unveiling the party’s strategies to ameliorate the negative effects on environment and enhancing hygiene awareness among the public, Thangal emphasized that Muslim League has spearheaded ‘Green Campaign’ whose thrust is to plant ‘One tree by one person.’ “Even though the picturesque state of Kerala, which abounds in plenty of rivers — 44 in number, as well as many lakes and rivulets, the state is facing acute shortage of water in summer as there has been no planned measures to conserve water from these rich sources as well as from heavy rain. This paradox happens as we have no water management strategy or plan for conservation,” he said, while drawing attention to the massive misuse of environment and pollution of water.

Thangal said that Muslim League has taken up the environmental issues as one of its priority areas. Thangal was also instrumental in organizing a unique gathering of prominent cultural and environmental figures from various parts of the state on the banks of Bharathappuzha river, which is also known as the River Nila. It is the second longest river in the state, which is considered as the Nile of Kerala. The camp focused on meticulous plans and strategies to preserve environment and conserve the precious sources of water. “Awareness programs were conducted for the elected members of panchayats about water conservation and planting of trees as much as possible. It was also decided to digging ponds with maximum participation of community members,” he said.

Thangal is the member of Muslim League’s highest decision-making body. He is also holding several key positions in the state such as managing director of Sathyadhara, a leading Fortnightly magazine as well as Gulf Sathyadhara. He is also the Managing Committee Chairman of Darshana TV.

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