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Communal violence - In the name of God!

Violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa may have made the Centre sit up and take notice, but nothing much has come out of it, as is obvious by the fact that the culprits are still at large and mobs are still running riot, writes Amrita Sharma.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2008 20:44 IST
Amrita Sharma

Violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa may have made the Centre sit up and take notice, but nothing much has come out of it, as is obvious by the fact that the culprits are still at large and mobs are still running riot.

Reports of churches being vandalized and Christians being targeted have been coming in regularly with no action being taken against the perpetrators. Increasing incidents of arson, killing and even rape of a nun has failed to stir the state government to intervene and curb the communal unrest.

As a result of the unbridled violence, over 20,000 people have been forced to live in camps, in fear and uncertainty. And this is so because the state administration seems unable to rein in the communal outfits such as the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, who are not only wreaking havoc with a vengeance but are doing so blatantly and fearlessly. In the face of it, the inference drawn is that they have the tacit approval by the state government to vent out their ire on the minority community and attack them without much fear of consequences. One can't help but notice that despite the assurances by the Chief Minister, the BJD-BJP coalition government in the state has done nothing concrete as yet to bring the volatile situation under control.

What's worse is the spill over of the communal rioting to other states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have a reasonable Christian population. Christian prayer halls were vandalized and churches targeted all over the state. Molesters barged into halls and even assaulted worshippers, including pastors. Not just that, a mob even damaged the crucifix and the tabernacle. The state Bajrang Dal convenor Mahindra Kumar even went on to announce to the media, "We will continue to do this against all churches indulging in conversion."

Such statements are not just beyond the norm of parliamentary democracy, but also against the very tenets of Hinduism. No religion propagates resorting to violence and rioting to achieve one's end - no matter what it is. Conversion is a matter of individual choice and is the prerogative of every human being. To stop somebody from leaving one's religion and adopting another is as grave a crime as forcing one to convert. Neither is justified. And violence and arson is definitely not the answer to such madness in the name of religion. Communal harmony is India's pride and essence and any threat to that should be dealt with strictly - not just by people themselves but also by state government, state administration and the Centre itself. Any lapse in this regard, makes those in authority answerable, not just to the people but to the Constitution as well, which espoused secularism as one of its crucial codes of belief.