Saturday, November 8, 2008

Loose ends in Kandhamal, the global linkages

By Sai Prasan
Both national and international media has extensively highlighted the escalation of communal violence in Kandhamal. The coverage of the Kandhamal violence has gone out of proportion. It has forced Union home minister Shivraj Patil to announce that President rule may be imposed in Orissa. He has argued that Naveen led BJD-BJP government has failed to control violence in Kandhamal inspite of repeated warnings from the Centre.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has gone a step ahead and convened the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting on October 13 in New Delhi to evolve a strategy to tackle communal violence in Orissa and Karnataka.
No doubt, the wide-spread violence unleashed by the unscrupulous elements of both the communities should be condemned by one and all. But, a close look at Kandhamal issue shows that the Christian media managers have successfully used media to highlight the violent incidents. They were successful in projecting that the Kandhamal is more of a communal phenomena rather than a caste-ethnic conflict. The people across the globe have been conveyed that the violence is the result of a fight between Hindus and Christians in Kandhamal. And, less space has been given to the simmering anger of Kandhs ( a tribe) against Pana (low caste Hindus) converted Christians.
Media has also given very little space to the initiatives in identifying the root cause of the Kandhamal violence and the steps necessary to resolve this crisis which has come to the fore since the beginning of this calendar year.
The media projecting Kandhamal as a law and order issue has made the task of Patil easy to take a tough stand against Orissa government. He told media last week-end that President rule can be imposed in Orissa. He might have done so after getting a hint from 10, Janpath as Sonia Gandhi, president of Congress Party herself might have received the red card from Vatican City.
A person of Patil’s stature, of course all others too, should know that the Kandhamal violence is not merely a law and order problem. The imposition of Article 356 may help in containing the violence for the moment. But, it can not be a permanent solution of the problem.
Patil must understand the ground reality which is very different than what has been projected in media. The media knowingly or unknowingly ignored the local linkages of the social and religious factors with the global forces. Instead of imposing President rule hastily, Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre must look into several issues in detail to resolve them accordingly.
Not resolving these issues will provide enough fodder to the communal forces to get strengthened not only in Orissa, but across the country. These issues throw several queries that needs be further explained and addressed.
Union home minister must know who are responsible for the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, whose murder has led to a large scale violence in Kandhamal? The news of Maoists behind the murder of the VHP leader may be state-managed to divert the attention of the people from the real culprits. This needs to be looked into.

It needs to be probed whether VHP leader was killed under a pre-planned conspiracy by the unscrupulous elements of his rival religion – Christians - to revive violence in the region? Was the murder committed by the vested interests with a motive to unleash communal violence so that they can present a case of persecution of Indian Christians which in turn may help them in getting international funding from the Christian countries?
A very few know that the Christian organizations in India make their plea, on the ground of persecution, to get huge funds from the international Christian community. One should know that the meaning of persecution is to treat somebody in a cruel and unfair manner specially because of his or her race or religion.
Patil should probe how much money these Christian organizations get annually from these global Christian funding agencies and what are the channels and accounting standards are maintained on these foreign fund flows into the country?
According to the insiders, these Christian organizations spend less money on the social front like education and health and allocate much more money on Proselytize. The meaning of Proselytize is to try to persuade other people to accept their belief/s especially about religion.
In the context of Kandhamal, former home minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Adjani has sought a debate on the conversions in India. But, one must understand that Proselytize has wider ramifications than conversion. The former is a step ahead than the latter.
The conversion is a process of changing religion from one to another. But, the process of Proselytize goes beyond conversion. It brings the deprived section of people in the society into their league by offering them good education, food, monetary benefits and jobs.
All these factors have given fodder to the Hindu fundamentalist forces like VHP also to grow in the state. They too get funds from Hindus living in foreign countries in the name of religion.
Both minority and majority communal elements are responsible for disturbing communal harmony. Patil is enthusiastic in imposing President’s rule in the state. But, the breakdown of law and order situation in a limited areas should not be the ground for imposing article 356 in Orissa.
Instead, both Centre and State must work in tandem to arrest violence in Kandhamal. The Centre should have the courage to look into the sources of funding of these communal organizations. And, strike at the root of these communal organizations.
Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik should also need to take several measures to bring peace in the state. He should immediately convene a meeting of all religious leaders, the secular and democratic political parties and independent civil society organizations to initiate a peace process in the disturbed areas. Only, an extensive people to people contact and mass mobilization in the villages can restore social and communal harmony in Kandhamal.

Mumbai / October 6, 2008

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