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Kerala road ‘renamed’ Gaza Street, intelligence agencies not amused

A Gaza Strip in the heart of Kasargod district?

Youngsters in a north Kerala municipality zone have been accused of swapping signboards to “rename” Thuruthi Street as Gaza Street after the contentious strip of land under Palestinian rule.

Intelligence agencies are not amused, despite claims that the stretch has been renamed in solidarity with those “targeted” by Israeli authorities. The reason? The street is located near Padanna village, which allegedly witnessed 22 youngsters trooping off to join the Islamic State’s militant army in recent times.

Municipal authorities said they haven’t been informed about the street being renamed, despite Kasargod district panchayat president AGC Basheer’s reported presence at the ceremony. Befathima Ibrahim, chairperson of the civic body, said she would look into the matter and rectify the problem at the earliest.

A Muslim League leader from the district claimed this was no serious matter. “One needn’t read too much into a prank committed by some youngsters of the area. Unlike Uttar Pradesh, we don’t plan to change place names. One has to take it sportingly,” he quipped, citing a beach named after Saddam Hussein in Kozhikode and another road bearing Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi’s name in Malappuram to drive home his point.

BJP leaders, however, believe this development is part of a systematic plan to “alter the character” of the communally sensitive district. “There is nothing new about this. There have been many other attempts of the kind in Kasargod,” said K Sreekanth, the party’s district president.

Kasargod has been under the radar of intelligence agencies ever since 22 youngsters disappeared from the area last year. Three of them have already been reported dead, while the rest are allegedly holding fort in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

“We are keeping an eye on such activities. Of late, many houses in north Kerala have put up residential name plates in Arabic. Some have even been forced into doing this. Such activities will breed discord among various communities in the region,” said a senior police officer hailing from the area.

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