ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Cauldron of Communal Violence

State inaction against communal elements has exacerbated an already polarised region in Orissa.

Communal violence is becoming a regular feature of Orissa society, differing from much of the rest of the country only in that it is the Christian minorities rather than Muslims who are at the receiving end. The violence against Christians and the community-run institutions in Kandhamal district following the murder of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four others comes less than a year after a string of attacks in Kandhamal district by the Sangh parivar on Christians on Christmas eve of 2007. At that time the conflagration was a culmination of various factors: the issue of conversion and re-conversion, demands for scheduled tribe (ST) status by some groups, and, of course, the underlying poor socio-economic status of the people in the mostly tribal area in an already communally affected Orissa.

Investigations are still under way to identify the murderers of Lakshmanananda Saraswati. Despite rumours and “beliefs” that the attack was conducted by Maoists, no concrete proof has emerged. The subsequent rioting and burning of Christian missions, schools and households and deaths of around 10 people at the time of writing reveal that the Sangh parivar has few qualms in d irecting violence at the poor of other communities.

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