Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas! But not so merry for Christians of Orissa

Right to Freedom of Religion
Article 25 of the Constitution: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.-(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
25th December, 2007: A forgettable Christmas for the Christians of Orissa.
A note on the incredulous sequence of events leading to the carnage on Christmas day and the day after. Also, a lession for the subaltern.

Even before the spectacular success of Narendra Modi in Gujrat had sunk in and even as the common man in various parts of the country was beginning to look forward to the BJP as an alternative for providing a clean and efficient government, disturbing reports of churches and convents being burnt in Orissa are coming in.

All the goodwill which the BJP appeared to have gained in the last five years has been undone, yet again, by this act of hooliganism. Thus reinforcing the belief that BJP and its more fundamentalist elements have only one agenda – that of spreading a politics of hatred.

For the benefit of those who have missed the episode, let me outline the sequence of events based on media reports. The striking feature of the chain of incidents is their immaculate timing and the clinical planning and execution.

December 24, 2007: Mysteriously, Swami Laxminanda Saraswati gets attacked on Christmas eve. Swami himself claims that the attack was engineered by the Congress MP since the attack occurred in his village.

But, for some reason, the VHP and other fundamentalist organizations decide that Christians must pay for the attack and hence as a response they instantaneously call a bandh on the Christmas Day!

They take care to appropriately time the bandh call from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon, knowing fully well that Church services are held for Christmas during those times. Then the carnage follows converting a day which is celebrated globally as a day of peace and joy into a day of horror and grief. In the course of the day several churches are torched, one life is lost and several people are injured.

As if the violence on Christmas day was not enough, passions are flared up on Wednesday, the day after Christmas, and more churches and houses succumb to the fundamentalist mobs amidst claims that temples were vandalized on Tuesday night.

To ensure that mob vandalism continues unabated, road blockades are installed and even telecommunication lines are snapped.

While I condemn such senseless acts of violence, what concerns me more is the profile of the people involved in such clashes.

Invariably, it is the ill educated, easily impressionable, and economically backward people who become a party as well as victim of such clashes. More often than not, majority of them would be from the Schedule Caste or Tribe or other subaltern sections, though the people instigating those clashes may be from upper classes / castes.

Therefore, the question that goes a begging is who are the people who get injured and killed in such clashes?

Obviously, it is the people belonging to the weaker sections of the society.

Whether the acts are being committed in the name of religion or ethnicity is immaterial. What should be realized is that the people belonging to the subaltern class are getting exploited and are by being misled by the upper castes/classes into committing heinous crimes on fellow subaltern brethren.
Therefore, next time you feel instigated to indulge in such violent behavior, watch out! Who is controlling your mind? And is such violence worth it? Even in God’s name?

Manoj Tirkey - POLEMICS - Diversity of views - ACADEMIA - An academic discourse

For the benefit of the uninitiated: BJP stands for Bhartya Janata Party and VHP stands for Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
“Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.”
– Luke 23: 32-34, The Bible.
Wish You a Happy & Peaceful 2008

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