IT WOULD HAVE BEEN any other Thursday, had it not gone terribly wrong. On the morning of 9 July 2015, Mohammed Fahad was headed to school with his sister, Shahala, and Abdul Anas, a friend. The alley that ran from their house to the government higher-secondary school in Kalliot, a village in the Kasaragod district of north Malabar in Kerala, had for years been a venue for idle chatter, for arguments about favourite cricketers and actors, for minor fights over chocolates, books and stickers.
Fahad was eight years old. Shahala was 11. They had grown up in a working-class Muslim family with communist sympathies. Despite the growing communalisation of north Malabar over the years, they harboured no insecurities about their identity. Kalliot has a history of communal harmony between its Hindu and Muslim residents. Fahad’s family always participated in the organisation of Vayanattu Kulavam Theyyam, an annual festival celebrated by oppressed-caste Hindus in north Malabar.