Secular polity should be strengthened for the holistic development
The 2008 was the black year for Odisha. Kandhamal violence has not only shaken the back bone of Odisha's society, but it has also tarnished the state's image before the national and global community.
The communal conflagration of Kandhamal has lasted for several months last year. It spread to new places in new forms and made people helpless and threatened. The situation has turned more complex. Both the sides used fire arms, ammunitions and explosives. It appeared as if Kadhamal is on a keg of explosives.
There are long range implications of the Kandhamal calamity. Not only it has undermined our national and international standing, it may also hamper the foreign aid and foreign help to Odisha. Likewise, it mayundermine and jeopardize the long standing traditions of cultural amity, understanding & co-existence, between ethnic groups, castes and communities of the state. Truly, the happenings of Kandhamal are no longer a small mis-adventure but turned into a great disaster.
Kandhamal violence has moved the chief minister of Odisha too. While Naveen Patnaik was touring the torched villages, turned into graveyards, an affected old destitute woman reportedly approached him. She held his hand and cried disconsolately. The heart rending cry of that old woman and the tragic circumstances melted his heart and tears rolled down his cheeks.
The media head lines next day went hoarse "The Chief Minister, cried". On return to Bhubaneswar with a heavy heart he told the media: "The incidents of Kandhamal are the most unfortunate event during his administration" .
Not only the chief minister, but majority of the people of Odisha think in the similar manner. The incidents of Kandhamal have affected them deeply. The compassion in their hearts, as his, have rolled down as tears. The people of the State have been deeply saddened by the recent communal incidents in Kandhamal. The combined gash of their hearts and tears of their eyes has shaken one and all.
The history of Indian communal violence shows that the main reason of riots is: Government inaction. Of course, Gujarat is a rare exception where, official encouragement was behind the riots. But in most places, riots become uncontrollable when and where government fails to instill the fear of law in the minds of the rioters. When government fails to instill confidence in the mind of the affected public and fails take steps to create fear of Law in the mind of the rioters, it is self-evident that riots will spread. Strict Government action alone, impedes riots and rioters.
In this regard in September 1957, the then prime minister of India, late Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, had written a letter to the then chief ministers. Invoking them to resist people involved in communal violence and hate, he wrote, "The issue should be fronted with strong action, as early as possible. The violators of law should be arrested and enterned, asap. People should believe that Government has no soft corner for the rioters".
Unhappy at the administrative actions taken, Nehru further wrote, "We have slowed down in this regard. Thus, the problem has continued to escalate. The main promoters of poison of communal hatred, the mischief mongers and goons, are thus continuing their work, unhindered. Yet, when the issue comes to a boil, a few innocent are arrested, the master minds escape the persecution."
We observe the deviations from these guide lines, in Nehru's own time in office. But relevance of that letter and invocation is still paramount, particularly in light of the recent communal violence in Kandhamal.
If one analyses the sequence of events from last December till today, one comes to the clear conclusion that the state government has not taken the measures necessary to prevent the spread of communal hatred and consequent violence. Rather, the government has remained a silent spectator, Naveen Patnaik being the Home minister of the state. The fire of communalism in Kandhamal had also spread to other states of India, like Karnataka & Kerala.
The majority of Odiyas are religious but are not communal. Even today they are free from communal hatred and malice. Communal amity still prevails in the state. But, the individuals and organizations, undermining this amity need to be brought to book with a strong hand. pronto.
The communal hate, crimes and disturbance, starting July 22, 2008 till today has dumbfounded all of us. The murder of Swami Laxmanananda and following counter attack, burning of thousands of houses of innocents, mass rioting and large scale disturbances have blackened the image of Odisha.
It is difficult to find words harsh enough, to appropriately condemn these dastardly acts. On the other hand, those who became the leaders of thepost Swami Laxmananda murder acts, who burned alive innocents like Rajani, who burned thousands of homes, caused a state-wide
unrest and vandalism, sure are no friends of Hinduism.
Many intellectuals forewarned in 1950s about spread of communalism in Punjab, which was ignored. It surfaced in 1981 and in 1984 and became so vicious that it crossed all bounds of humanism. People saw how vicious can the communal violence be, in the post partition, India.
In the 90s, communal thoughts prevailed in creating a series of communal riots in which cities like Moradabad, Meerut, Bangalore, Bombay, Bhagalpur, Jaypore and Lucknow, endured. These riots, challenged the human conscience and values of Indians.
At the advent of the 21st century again the countrygot shocked at a conflagration of communal violence. In February-March, 2002, the Gujarat conflagration burned out of control. It was so vicious, venomous and wide spread that it threatened common man with fear and disgust. The ripping open witha sword of a human fetus out of the body of a pregnant women, inthat riot, does not have any parallel in our history.
Gujrat riotsare deemed a national shame. This riot was the most vicious since,1947 and was unprecedented in the history of Gujarat and it's administration being actively involved in these riots. Gujarat Police took the role of rioters.
The Sangh Parivar has tried to make Odisha as their second laboratory of communalism to retain power in the state. Communal is a bane to the human society. It is anti-religious and anti-development. It is now the duty of all the citizens of the state specially the intelligentsia to thwart the communal mindset and to restore communal peace and harmony. The secular polity of Odisha should be strengthened for the overall development of the state.