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

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Indulging the Hate-mongers

The victims of the anti-Christian Kandhamal riots still await justice and rehabilitation.

The kind of communal violence that rocked Kandhamal in Odisha in August 2008 rarely takes place without a long build-up. This was done by right-wing organisations and forces that used their own brand of nationalism as a facade to demonise the Christians and Christian missionaries and took advantage of the historical divide between the dalit Panas and the adivasi Kandhas. The Naveen Patnaik-led government then had the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its coalition partner and turned a blind eye to the trouble that was brewing. Since then till date, justice has bypassed the victims of the riots; an unremarkable fact even if it is now something to be expected in every instance of organised killing and violence against the weak and the vulnerable. It was in this context that adivasi and human rights organisations as well as Christian groups observed 25 August as Kandhamal Day nationwide, drawing attention to the plight of those displaced by the riots, inadequate rehabilitative measures and the tardy pace of the legal process.

A similar build-up is now taking place in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, where three gram panchayats passed a resolution in June this year “banning” the entry of Christians (the local media says 50 villages have passed such a resolution). That these gram panchayats feel emboldened to pass such “official” resolutions is indicative of how conducive the atmosphere is to unleashing hate campaigns and demonising a minuscule religious minority.

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