Mental shift

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Communal rage: New face of violence

Posted by jytmkh on September 15, 2008

NEW DELHI: The communal violence and retaliation by security forces claiming two more lives in Kandhmal in Orissa on Saturday, and Bajrang Dal-led attacks on Christians in Davanagere and Chikmagalur in Karnataka, no longer appear to be isolated incidents. Conversion related violence is on the rise and tantamount to opening up of yet another front apart from the ones that jolt us out of our revery now and then: Islamist terrorism and Maoist extremism.

The attacks on Christians are being sought to be justified on the ground that people are being forcibly converted from Hinduism or tribalism to Christianity.

But on closer scrutiny, it appears the issue isn’t merely of conversion. In Kandhmal, for instance, it’s the increasing prosperity of the Dalit Panas after they converted to Christianity that seems to have become a trigger for violence against them.

In times of blind hatred, there is no independent verification of the charge levelled by the majority Kandha tribals against the Dalit Panas: that they claim Hinduism as their religion in certificates for job benefits as SCs but practice Christianity for a jump in their social profile. Orissa has the highest percentage of Hindu population of all the states, almost 95%.

While Hindu numbers have decreased marginally over the last three decades, there has been a corresponding increase in Christian population. This possibly points at the cause — but not the justification — for the attacks against Orissa’s Christians.

In West Bengal’s Nadia district, the last reported instance of violence against Christians was on Christmas 2002, when a priest and 14 others were injured after a group of about 50 armed men attacked the church during the special midnight mass.

They threatened about 1,000 worshippers with dire consequence if they didn’t immediately disperse. Says George Pattery, head of Jesuits of Kolkata, “Sitting in West Bengal, we can’t imagine the struggle that missionaries are going through in Orissa. They are being targeted because they have been able to bring a change in the lives of the poorest of the poor. However, as always we will continue with our work.” In Karnataka, where a couple of days before the Davanagere prayer hall was torched, the local administration locked up two churches in the town.

Two students of Bible college too were attacked. Says former Bangalore city police chief and BJP MP H T Sangliana, who voted with the UPA on the July 22 trust vote, “The impression among people is that the attacks on Christians have increased since the BJP government came to power in the state. The freedom of religion has been violated.” He refutes the charge of conversion against the missionaries and says, “No one has produced any evidence.” In Chhattisgarh, a relatively unknown group of fundamentalists, Dharma Sena, has been periodically attacking Christian congregations and prayer meetings.

On Christmas eve in 2007, Pastor James and 10 other Christians were beaten up by “Dharma Sena” lumpens. Then, only last week, four Catholic nuns were forced to get off a train at Durg railway station along with four infants by Dharma Sena activists who claimed the children were Hindu and were being taken for religious conversion.

It later came to light that the babies were willingly handed over to the nuns of Missionaries of Charity by unwed mothers. Religious conversion is a social issue needing address by community leaders through dialogue.
Its degeneration into violence is a reflection on the shrinking liberal space where all differences are sought to be sorted out through physical intimidation and, worse, liquidation. (TOI)


One Response to “Communal rage: New face of violence”

  1. ajish said

    Hello my dear brother
    i am also a chrstian from kerala.i read ur article very carefully
    you mean to say some new life people can make any kind of notoriuos booklets and the hindus should kep mum.please dont chkck their my state just bz we r christians we got some medical and engineering the bishops are barking like dirty dogs when the government tried to bring some justice to those students who really made up in the ladder.but its absolutly clear in kerala that our own bishops are trying to make money for the sabha.
    but if ur a real christian,please read THE HOLY BIBLE and live like have the freedom for that in india.u just imagine if a small statement against a muslim in this country makes violence.So I repeat dont test the patience of hindus

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