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Narayanan not India's first Dalit president? Kin take strong exception to "false communal propaganda"

By Our Representative
Well-known Kerala-based academic Meera Velyudhan has taken strong exception to what she calls "false communal propaganda" being spread that India's first Dalit president  KR Narayanan wasn't actually a "Hindu Dalit" but a Christian. The propaganda, according to her, is aimed at giving Ramanth Kovind, known for RSS leanings, the status of first Dalit President of India.
A kin of Narayan, Velyudhan in a Facebook post has said that "although our cousin, the late President KR Narayanan, was cremated, in our paternal side, burial was the custom. My parental uncle was buried in Uzhavoor."
"Anyone who knows Kerala, will know that Dalits did bury those who passed away. I guess, they just go back to the land they toiled so hard on and which is integral to their lives", insists Velyudhan.
"BJP was never supportive of our late President as he was secular, democratic", with "intellectual qualities" the party "cannot imagine in a Dalit", says Velyudhan, wondering, "Now that they have a hardcore RSS as President, he becomes the first Dalit president."
Meera Velyudhan
Referring to Sangh people who are citing Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP's) Ashok Singhal to claim that Narayanan was a Christian, Veluudhan says, none takes him "seriously", as his only "talent is that he is loudmouth, communal , spreading false information".
"The all round attacks on Dalits, on their livelihoods, freedom to move around, dress as they want, their education (cuts in scholarships, shutting down social inclusion research centres) -- all point to the hypocrisy of this ruling party and its parivar", she says.
"On the other hand, a fitting memorial to the late President would be when dalits and all marginalized are treated as equals and gain their rights and entitlements", she insists, with one of her supporters adding, "He was the president for Christians, Hindus and Muslims."

VHP claims

The controversy about Narayanan's religious credentials began way back in 1997, when Singhal declared, it was "a larger conspiracy of the Church to make Rashtrapati Bhavan a bastion of Christianity", claiming, "Narayanan has never served the Dalit cause throughout his life. He is neither a follower of Dr Ambedkar nor of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, it is dangerous to make him the President."
To prove the claim, the VHP leader cited Kochi-based National Harijan Action Council's papers which show that the Narayanan "was born in a poor Hindu family in the Uzhavoor village of Kerala's Kottayam district", but was "always in touch with Christian missionaries."
According to VHP, when the young Narayanan went to study for a bachelor's degree in the Church-managed CMS College in Kottayam, it was the Christian missionaries who took care of his requirements. Later, when Narayanan decided to marry, he chose a foreigner.
"His wife, whom the vice-president met when he was posted at the Indian embassy in Rangoon, is a Christian -- the VHP claims -- though she was later re-christened Usha Narayanan", VHP alleged.
Ramnath Kovind with BJP chief Amit Shah
"Narayanan is a Dalit Hindu only on paper. His bent of mind, philosophy of life and his life-long activities are all distinctly anti-Hindu," said , citing how as vice-president he maintained close links with the World Council of Churches, the apex body of various Church denominations in the world.
Bases on what Singhal said in 1997, a rightwing site has said, it is "shocking" that Nararayanan was "the first Christian president and not a Dalit president." The site, postcard.com, even as calling him "eminent diplomat", says though Narayanan has been projected as the first Dalit president, "recent findings with speaking evidence suggest otherwise".
Quoting a Times of India report dated November 10, 2005, the site says that he may have been cremated on the banks of Yamuna, his last rites were performed by his nephew S Ramachandran at a spot between Shanti Van (Jawaharlal Nehru's memorial) and Vijay Ghat (of Lal Bahadur Shastri), and they were conducted according to Hindu rites, "the funeral was amidst chanting of all prayers of religions."
The site continues, "unbelievable though it may seem, there is another grave of the same former president in Delhi Christian Cemetery, near Prithviraj Road", New Delhi, and the epitath reads, "KR Narayanan, a gentle colossus Former President of India (1997-2002)."
Ashok Singhal
Quoting unidentified sources, the site says, "It is said that that the mortal remains of Narayanan were brought to the the cemetery in 2008, at the time of the burial of wife Usha Narayanan", a Burmese whom he married during his stint in Rangoon in 1951." Usha changed her name to from Ma Tint Tint after marriage.
The site says, "The latest evidence has proved the claims of Singhal to be correct. As is widely known, the power corridors in Delhi have long been under the grip of Crypto-Christians." To make it safe, the site adds, "It is to be investigated that how KR Narayanan ended up in a Christian cemetery if he was a Hindu Dalit", insisting, "The Church wss in no way supposed to succumb to any request and allow a non-Christian to be buried there."

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