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Advani condemns church attacks

The BJP top leadership is quite uncomfortable these days over the attacks on Christians, especially after the RSS conveying that they did not approve of such violent campaign, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2008 00:25 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The BJP top leadership is quite uncomfortable these days over the attacks on Christians, especially after the RSS conveying that they did not approve of such violent campaign.

So much so that leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani broke his silence on Wednesday to condemn the violence in Bhubaneswar, saying “there can be no justification for violence or vandalism in the name of religion.”

He said, “since I am in Orissa, I would like to say a few things about the recent unfortunate happenings in the state.” Advani chose Orissa to make his stand clear as the state, along with Karnataka, had witnessed attacks on churches.

The BJP’s coalition ally, the Biju Janata Dal, has not been pleased, too. In fact, many Orissa BJP leaders have criticised Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s handling of the issue. The other NDA allies also did not shy away from expressing their displeasure.

Advani said: “The killing of Swami Laxmanananda and three others was a provocative incident. At the same time, the violent reaction to this incident was also condemnable. The guilty should not be spared. Such incidents must not be repeated, either in Orissa or anywhere else.”

Striking a moderate tone, Advani also rejected the idea of banning religious conversion. He said any move against conversions must not become a campaign against any community.

“However, time has come for a free and frank democratic debate and inter-faith dialogue on the issue,” Advani said, seeking a firm national consensus against “proselytisation using methods of coercion or inducements or by vilifying any faith”.

Meanwhile, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded the dismissal of Jamia Millia Islamia University Vice Chancellor Mushirul Hasan for announcing legal aid for the two students who have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the serial blasts in the capital and other cities.

Prasad said Prof Hasan has no authority to flounder the taxpayer’s money he gets from the government to run the university. “His intent to finance the terrorist students … amounts to an indirect endorsement of the bomb blasts and, as such, he must be sacked,” Prasad asserted.

Senior BJP leader V. K. Malhotra said Jamia Millia was a central university, which received funds from the government. “On one hand, the government and its police have arrested them, on the other a government-aided institution is defending them by providing legal aid. This is dichotomy.”