“The entire Kandhmal district has been placed under indefinite curfew and the government has issued shoot at sight orders.
The order was issued after violent clashes between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers and local Christian groups over the past few days.
Atleast 14 people are reported dead in the district although the official number stands at ten. There have been no further clashes on Wednesday but a retired DGP's house was attacked near Raikia.
Hundreds of policemen have been deployed to prevent any more violence from taking place.
The trouble started after VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed on Saturday night. The saffron group then retaliated by setting fire to an orphanage killing a worker and injuring a priest.
The police say there is no conclusive evidence that Maoists were involved in the attack on Saturday.
Two people have been arrested but their identities have not been revealed. Many others including Christian activist leaders are being interrogated.” (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20080063083 )
No evidence, no proof, just blind faith that VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati, who was speaking against Christian conversion policies in the state of Kandhamal District in Orissa.
However, in Face The Nation with Sagarika Ghose, on the night of 26th August, 2008, a fiery RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav, who was infuriated at allegations that Hindu groups were targeting missionaries and Christians in Orissa said - “The situation is quite different. Hindus are at the receiving end. A highly respected saint was killed. There is enough evidence to prove the complicity of Christian organisations in the murder.”
Reverend Dr Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India rejected Madhav’s claim. He said conversion has become an excuse to attack Christians and malign them. “The VHP gets the maximum amount of money India than Christians. Christians have used money to serve and empower the poor and marginalized. Not a single case has been proved till date in the courts of forced conversion (by Christian groups),” he said.
The issue is not religion but poverty, said Professor Mohanty. “Kandhamal is one of the poorest regions in the country. Seventy per cent people here are below the poverty line; 51 per cent are tribals and 16 per cent are Dalits,” he said.
“It is a situation of poverty and landlessness, both among Hindus and Christians. Orissa has become the experiment ground of globalisation, economic reforms, mega projects and Hindutva politics.”
Hindu groups are not to blame for the violence and the state is in turmoil because of Christian missionaries, alleged Madhav. “Every conversion in Orissa has to be registered with the local police or magistrate but no such thing happens. Where is the chance for Hindutva politics when missionaries are going about aggressively and alluring people,” he said.
The Sangh Parivar doesn’t hate conversions as much as it does Christians, alleged Howell. “An ideology of hatred has been propagated by some sections of the Sangh Parivar. They don’t hate Christian service; it is the very identity of being a Christian that is hated. There are just 2.4 per cent Christians in India and we too have contributed to the growth of the country.”
Christians are not hated, insisted Madhav. “Every religion is respected in this country but Christians criticise and attack Hindu religion. It this attitude of Christians which is leading to tension in this country,” he alleged.
The communal divide in Orissa’s tribal districts is the result of poverty and “competitive politics”, said Mohanty. “The shrinking rights of tribals over forests and land and the coming of mega projects is the economic issue there. They are all poor there and poverty is being diverted to communalism. It is competitive politics,” he said.
Madhav called such an analysis wrong. “There is a clear cut division between Hindus and Christians and it is because of their (missionaries) wrongdoing and Congress leaders. A holy person is killed and the very next day the Congress tables a no-confidence motion against the state government—what does it suggest? The Congress is a part of a larger political conspiracy,” he alleged.
Howell announced Christian institutions in the country would close on August 29 to protest against the attacks in Orissa. “I hope the civil society wakes up before it’s too late,” he said.
Madhav said Christian groups were free to shut their schools and institutions but they must also shut “proselytization” activity.
“Do not make this a Christian versus Hindu issue. We must go into the sources of violence,” said Mohant
This is not a problem of two religions clashing together. It is a case of caste dynamics at play. What Hindus need to do is rescue the downtrodden from their abject poverty and the influence of casteism. Rather than make it a political issue. If thousands of humans who have no food to eat and no money to spare, no education they can rely on, are turning to Christianity, where they are released from the evil grips of man-made caste divisions and are respected as humans and their children, given education and food to eat, only Hindus are to blame for this.
And in times to come, the Dalit movement in India will gain power. So will many of the poverty stricken turn to Christianity. After all, dignity is what everyone loves to have and it is a basic human right. Lets face it, at the end of the day, people need food in their stomachs, clothes on their bodies and a shelter over their heads and all these come at a cost. If to save oneself from the clenching grip of poverty, a human is willing to take on to Christianity, which promises equality, why blame it on conversion? Self respect, is not an exclusive property of the rich. It is again a basic human need.
Therefore, you bigoted mongrels, who in the name of religion will shun your own poor brethren, clean up your own home first?
If Hindus in whatever name they choose to call themselves, VHP or RSS, are unable to help the poor because their agenda is such that the vote bank is dependent on poverty and lack of education of the people in their constituency, then let them face the consequences thereof.
In the meantime, it would help them to remember the services given in the name of Jesus, by illustrious souls such as Mother Theresa. Or the Sisters and Fathers, at numerous schools and colleges across the country, where thousand of children are educated and made into proud citizens of India. Institutions we can truly be proud of, where education walks hand-in-hand with Faith, no matter, which it might be. Let them not forget that some of the best schools and Colleges are run by Christian missionaries, many of whom have left their countries to live in India.
What has been the so-called VHP and RSS contribution, if I may ask, which can match the zeal of Christian missionaries?
I am not a Christian. But have received enormously from the Christian institutions, friends and family. I love them all.
I only dislike people who say they are Christian Brahmins.
I only dislike people who say they are Christian Brahmins.
Then I know, where the disease has started from.
Blind faith? Fragile peace blown to bits in Orissa
Shoot-at-sight order issued in Kandhmal
Orissa fallout: Christian schools, colleges shut across India
PM terms Orissa violence a 'national shame'