Vinod Mubayi


As if paying the nation back for its unsuccessful attempt to unseat the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government in the no-confidence vote on July 22 on the nuclear deal, the forces of Hindutva, led by the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party)  and cheered on by its leader Mr. L.K. Advani, have gone on a mad warpath against the minorities in India.  While Muslims are the predictable victims in Jammu district of J&K, it is the fate of poor Christians in Kandhamal district of the eastern state of Orissa, whose meager properties are being burnt as this issue is being written and whose lives are being snuffed out in retaliation for the alleged killing of a Hindutva leader, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, and four of his associates, that is particularly poignant.


The state government of Orissa, which is led by a BJD-BJP combine, stated that the Swami was killed by Naxalites. So why are the poor Christians paying the price? In both Jammu and Kandhamal, the response of the local government administration has been both slow and ineffective, to say the least.  It is further evidence of the extensive communalizing of the state machinery, especially the police.


The rise of Hindutva in Jammu has taken place in response to the extensive pro-azadi and pro-Pakistan sentiments expressed in Kashmir Valley after the ham-handed administrative imbroglio over the allotment of land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (see articles below). But it has gone beyond all limits as BJP tries to derive maximum electoral mileage from the issue, regardless of the lasting damage it may inflict on the state and the country. But there are no such reasons for Hindutva’s barbaric assaults on Christians in Orissa including burning alive of young women and the disabled whose only fault is that they happened to belong to a different religion than the perpetrators of these heinous acts. Burning people alive seems to be a special tactic indulged in by the Hindu extremists; they did it in 1999 in Orissa when Australian pastor Graham Staines and his two young sons were murdered by a mob, it was done extensively in Gujarat in the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, and it is being done again now on a large scale in Orissa again.


According to news reports, significant numbers of churches and homes of local Christians have been destroyed, thousands of poor people have fled to and are hiding in forests in fear of their lives, and over a dozen people have lost their lives. Hindutva forces, belonging to RSS and other groups, have long been on a re-conversion campaign to convert poor tribals from Christianity to Hinduism. Notwithstanding the fact, that most tribals in India were completely outside the Hindu religion and its caste structure in the first place, the re-conversion campaign is ironic in the sense that it uses the material inducements that Hindu groups often accuse the Christian missionaries of doing in order to gain converts. In effect, the re-conversion is a political stunt driven by vote bank considerations designed to garner votes for BJP or other Hindutva parties. Swami Laxmananda was identified as a zealous leader of the re-conversion campaign. His death has become a convenient excuse for the barbaric atrocities that are now being inflicted on Orissa’s Christians. 

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