The brutal killing of Swami Lakshmanananda and his four associates at Jalespata in Kandhamal district on 23rd August 2008 could not be averted though the state had received all prior information about it.. This speaks volumes about the ultimate failure of the state and the Sangh Pariwar in protecting his life. Though the Swami had been spreading hatred against the minority Christians for the last 30 years, he had received no such threats from this community in the past. People associated with Lakshmanananda knew it pretty well that the alleged mortal attack on him in last December which was widely propagated throughout the state was just a drama and had been constructed to create communal tension in the district. The Swami had never been attacked anytime in the past though he was always traveling across villages dominated by minority Christians. The purpose of saying all these here is to suggest that since Lakshmanananda had received no such real threats to his life in the past, the warnings he received prior to his death should have been taken quite seriously by the State as well as the Sangh Pariwar.
Since the state is burning under communal fire since August 23rd , and the government is helplessly surrendering before Lord Jagannath to save the state, it is becoming evident that had the Sangh Pariwar sincerely wanted, it could have prevailed upon its obedient Navin Govt. to provide security to Lakshmananda. It could have also engaged its own armed goons to prevent this mishap, the same goons who have been reigning supreme since 23rd August.It is difficult to uderstand why Sangh Pariwar did not take threats to the Swami's life as seriously as it took the task of avenging his killing. This has baffled all conscientious citizens of the state. It is just not a matter of coincidence that the Sangh Pariwar has stood firmly against all peaceful democratic mass movements protesting against displacement. Rather, it has supported state interventions against the peoples' movements. Whenever the anti-displacement leaders and activists are branded as Maoists, the Sangh Pariwar people are the first ones to join the chorus . They also demand firm action against such leaders and activists. Today, when the Govt. of the state is running under their shadow, and the Govt. is claiming that it is an act of the Maoists, what makes them disbelieve such claims? We believe that the violence unleashed on minority Christians since 23rd August 2008 has been happening under the indirect patronage of the state Govt. Certain developments are really disturbing us.
1.Why the Sangh Pariwar and the state did not take any step to prevent the killing of Lakshmanananda?
2.Why the Govt. didn't take any immediate steps to stop the organized violence of the Sangh Pariwar though it was anticipated ? The Govt. could have made preventive arrests of key Sangh Pariwar leaders prior to the Bandh call given in 25th August . It could have issued shoot-at-sight orders aiming at all potential rioters. It could have deployed paramilitary forces at all sensitive places. It could have called an all-party meeting seeking support of all party leaders to ensure peace and normalcy in the state.
3.It could have deputed the moderate elements in the BJP segment of its cabinet to Kandhamal district, and put pressure on the rioters to regulate them.
4.It could have stopped the funeral procession of Lakshmanananda from covering a distance of 200 kms, and thus allow violence on minorities all along the path of procession.
5.The Chief Minister could have personally appealed to the people to maintain peace by assuring them that his government is taking all appropriate measures to nab the culprits who commited the murder of Swami.
The role of all mainstream political parties is equally condemnable. The local leaders of the main opposition Congress party are mostly with Sangh Pariwar, which is the reason why violence on minorities could not be prevented even in pockets where Congress party has got good influence. The local leaders of the Congress have always extended good help to Swami Lakshmanananda whenever the Swami had organizedyajnas or other communal rituals.If one recalls the kind of role that Congress did play during the Gujarat riots and in the days following the riots, one would find a similar role played by the Congress in Orissa in the Kandhamal situation. The Secretary of Kandhamal Kui Samaj, Lambodar Kanhar, must be watching the way his association with the Sangh Pariwar is taking an ugly turn. By nurturing political ambitions in him, Sangh Pariwar has been planning to take undue advantage of its relationship with the Kui Samaj. Let me recall here that the rest of the leaders of Kui Samaj are yet to be wholly influenced by Sangh ideology. Kui Samaj consists of tribals belonging to Hindu as well as Christian communities, but Lambodar, through his program of action, has given the impression that the Kui Samaj belongs only to Hindu tribals. The Bandh call given by Kui Samaj on the Christmas day last year bears testimony to this. The demographic profile of Kandhamal suggests that in the last 40 years, the population of outsiders having migrated into the district has increased by 140% . They are all non-tribals and non-Dalits, who mostly belong to the upper castes – Brahmins, Karans , Telis, Sundhis, Kumudis, etc. They do trade and business with tribals and Dalits. The stories of oppression involving them can be narrated separately. Most of the fertile lands in the district are under the control of these trading communities. They are the people who provide a good base to all Sangh Pariwar outfits who operate in the district. Whenever there has been communal violence in the district, the role of such people is questionable.
The way the armed goons of Sangh Pariwar took total control of the state on 25th August while observing Bandh , the way the teachers of Sarashwati Sishu Mandir took active part in the Bandh, one can imagine what would happen if BJP comes to power on its own strength. These are the teachers supposed to build the future and the character of innocent children. Can we call them teachers who are unhesitantly spreading hatred and violence among the people ? The reporting of the Bandh in the media was equally distasteful. The state is already in news for its irresponsible journalists. Any one who reads the reports of the events since August will also have similar views.
The minority Christians of Kandhamal have taken shelter in the villages of neighbouring districts. In many villages, the Hindus have come forward to provide them shelter and food, which is taken as a true demonstration of their Hindu identities. Some of the Hindus, in Kandhamal, while trying to save the lives of minority Christians have also laid down their own lives in the hands of Sangh Pariwar goons. They all deserve to be saluted. The Editor himself has received many telephone calls from Hindus desperately seeking support to save the lives of minority Christians. The incidences of burning of houses, killing, and migration of hundreds of thousands of minorities to safer places by taking along with them kids and pregnant women through deserted routes without any food and water have hurt many of the Hindus in the district. They are all blaming the killers of Lakshmanananda for helping Sangh Pariwar to create such an adverse situation for the minorities. Now the question comes : Who is a real Hindu ? All these people, or the ones who are out in the streets holding the plaques of Sangh Pariwar and creating bloodshed ? The Hindus have never given the contract of defending their own religion to the Sangh Pariwar.
We also demand that the killing of Lakshmanananda should be independently investigated into. The real intentions of the killer should be brought to light. The culprits must be punished. But there should also be an independent investigation into any alleged conversion or re-conversion which has created lot of heat among the religious leaderships in the state. Any forced conversion or re-conversion must be stopped. We have very little hope that the Navin Pattnaik Govt. will be able to do it. The number of progressive and sensitive individuals in the state is also on the decline. Otherwise there should have been instant protests against such communal violence.
The leaders of the minority communities should work more responsibly. The Sangh Pariwar, which one day had killed Gandhiji, could go to any extent to avenge the killing of one of its frontline leaders. It is not important for them to know who has killed the Swami. The main purpose is how to organize many more killings of minorities in response to such a killing. We have to remember one fact that our children will never forgive us in the future if we remain as silent spectators to the making of a history based on hatred and communal animosity.
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