The communal violence in Orissa continued for days. Nearly 15,000 Christians are refugees now. Don’t you feel accountable personally?
We have been taking action from the very start of the violence. I visited the district to bring peace and calm. An officer has been appointed as a special administrator of Kandhamal. He will look into the problems of land and false certificates that cause tension between STs and SCs.
Have you also sent a tough political message to the Sangh Parivar, of which the BJP, your ally, is as much part as the Bajrang Dal?
Over 1,000 people have been arrested. These include members of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. We will brook no violence or any breaking of the law.
Haven’t the BJP and Sangh Parivar done you great disservice? They were behind the Graham Staines incident and also last year’s December riots
In the eight-and-a-half years that I have been CM, there have been two communal incidents, including the one in December 2007. Both were in Kandhamal that is among the 30 districts we have in the state. There are more than one lakh Christian in Kandhamal. At the beginning of the violence, there were a maximum of 20,000 in the relief camps. Now ten thousand of them have left the camps. I am sure more will be leaving soon. My job is to see that law and order is maintained; that peace is restored; that the law comes down heavily on anyone involved in violence, communal or otherwise; and to deal in a humane and caring way with the suffering people.
But Chief Minister, don’t you feel personally betrayed by the Sangh Parivar?
I repeat to you again that people from extremist organizations who have been involved in these crimes have been arrested. The law will take its course.
Will you support a Central ban on the Bajrang Dal?
We have heard media stories about it. That will be the Centre’s decision. My job is to ensure that that anyone who commits a crime is arrested.
That means you do not support banning the Bajrang Dal.
Bans etc. are in the hands of the Central government.
Will you implement the ban?
We are obliged to implement anything that’s legal. But let me put it this way…. We have taken stringent action against those involved.
So, you say if the Centre proscribes the Bajrang Dal, your government will be obliged to implement it.
Let me clarify. Many people at the NIC meeting from all sides thought that banning an organisation does not work. But the law will take its course against those who commit crimes.
That’s another matter. If there is a ban, will you implement it? You said you’d be legally obliged to do so…
I said whatever any government is legally obliged to do, it will obviously have to do.
If there is another Kandhamal type incident, what shall be your political response vis-à-vis the BJP? It’s after all a political problem.
I am not an astrologer. I do not want communal violence to return to any part of my state. I do not want to speculate on the future.
Don’t you think a greater responsibility devolves on you to protect the Christians who aren’t a major vote bank in the predominantly Hindu Orissa?
I have been CM for over eight years during which only two communal incidents have happened. Staines was murdered during the Congress rule in 1999.
But the same forces were behind it…
It was a great tragedy, a horrible crime. I then was a Union Minister and visited Keonjhar after the incident. It was a terrible thing. But it did happen.
The BJP’s Kharabela Swain first said the Christians, not the Maoists, killed the Swami. But after the Maoists claimed the murder, he said the VHP leader was slain by Maoists who are Christians….
Our crime branch will get to the truth. We have also ordered a judicial inquiry into murder and the consequent communal violence.
Who are they? Are they Maoists, Christians or Christian Maoists?
Let the crime branch get to the truth.
The Nun’s rape was shocking…
Yes, shameful and savage…