RELIGIOUS REVIVALISM BECOMES BLOODY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A stalwart of Hindu religious revivalism Laxmanananda Saraswati has been shot dead while resting in a female child asylum at Tumudibandha of Kandhamal district along with five others at about 8.30 in the evening of August 23.

RSS alleges that Christian religious fanatics have killed Laxmananand who was very active in foiling their attempts to Christianize the tribals and hence was in their hit list.

Orissa has experienced a lot of communal conflict due to religious revivalism. Laxmanananda was a known agent provocateur whom the Law and order authorities a few months ago had prohibited to enter into Phulbani in order to contain communal carnages.

Plutocracy, ushered into India by Manmohan Singh infested Congress and pampered by profiteers’ political organ BJP, is eager to keep the jungle-dweller tribes subdued forever as it is only they, who can valiantly resist the spread of industry and trade that needs to grab their land and to destroy their environment to proceed and profit.

Therefore plutocracy is apprehensive of a tribal uprising, specifically as, abandoned by mainstream politicians and exploited by local bureaucrats and middlemen and contractors and moneylenders and traders, they have got a strong ally in the left-wing ultras that the exploiters and their pet media go on projecting as Naxals or Maoists. The left-wing ultras have given the tribes their voice to raise demands for their economic rights and as evidenced in spread of Naxal influence from district to district, the poor peoples’ voice of demand for their economic right is stronger day by day. This is fidgeting the scoundrels that are exploiting the peoples.

As this new phase of peoples uprising is getting more defined, the precipitators of plutocracy are using a two-pronged strategy. One, they are using state exchequer to instigate armed forces to annihilate the left-wing ultras in blatant contravention of the civil laws in force and two, they are encouraging religious revivalists to confuse peoples into the fold of fate so that plutocracy gets a good shock-absorber to surge ahead. This is why in Orissa’s tribal areas where left-wing ultras are active, religious revivalists are seen aggressively active.

When the armed forces engaged against left-wing ultras are not ready to block the poor peoples’ demand for economic rights, the religious revivalists are intrinsic to plutocracy and are active supporters of plutocratic power play as plutocracy for survival fully depends on existence of God or Gods that the religious revivalists create, propagate and protect.

So religious revivalism is a political game aimed at putting exploiters in power. No game is a game if rivals are not there. Naturally therefore, there is bitter rivalry between the Christian and Hindu fanatics in Kandhamal and similar other places. Hindu religious chauvinists are marked for their support to Indian capitalists when Christian religious fanatics are active collaborators of foreign capitalist interest in India. There rivalry is not religious but in the guise of religion it in reality is a politico-economic rivalry that in other words may be said as national versus international rivalry in serving the system of exploitation. No wonder, it is bitter.

This bitter rivalry has led to death of Laxmanananda. If anybody is to take note of this, it is the religious revivalist of all hue, primarily.

They should note that if their foul play against poor people in the name of religion does not stop, time will come, no God would come to their rescue as Laxmananand’s God has notably failed to save him. As dinosaurs supposedly killed each other and got extinct, the religious revivalists would kill each other as bloody stooges of politico-economic rivals both in the national and international arenas.

Orissa’s Tumuribandha may just be the beginning.

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  1. Who killed Swami Lakshmanananda?
    =============================
    Not the Maoists, everyone except some senior state government authorities maintain.

    Even the top brass of the state police say it is improbable that Maoists were responsible for the murder of the Swami and four others at his remote ashram in Orissa’s Kandhamal district on Saturday night. A senior state police officer said the modus operandi of the murders do not provide substantial evidence that the Maoists may be involved.

    Here are the facts of the murder after preliminary investigations:

    On Saturday, the ashram was celebrating Janmashtami, when around dinner time, a group of 30-40 armed assailants surrounded the place.
    Eyewitnesses said about four of the assailants carried AK-47s and many others had country made revolvers.
    Two of the four home guards stationed for security had gone to eat and only two of them were guarding the premises.
    The assailants tied down the two guards, and gagged them.
    They then sought out the Swamiji within the premises and opened fire on him.
    The recovered bullets show they were from an AK-47, the police said.
    The assailants then warned the guards not to raise an alarm and fled the scene.
    Within minutes of the reaching the crime scene, the district authorities made a statement saying it was suspected Maoists who killed the Swami.

    “Isn’t it far fetched? District authorities blaming a particular outfit within minutes of arriving at a crime scene?” asked Ashok Sahu, a retired IPS officer, who specialises in left wing extremism.

    There are two reasons given as to why the state could have taken the Maoist line. The first is obvious, observers say.

    “In December 2007, the area witnesses some of the bloodiest violence Orissa has even seen after the Swami was attacked by Christians. The state might have wanted to avert a repeat of the communal clashes and therefore could have pinned the blame on the Maoists,” one of them said.

    Sahu said there could be more to the government’s action than this.

    “Elections are coming in a matter of months. The state has failed miserably in tackling the Maoist insurgency. A government that has been terrorised by the Maoists may in turn be trying to terrorise the people in the name of the Maoists” he said.

    Why are so many people ready to debunk the government’s Maoist attack theory so readily? The main reason is modus operandi of the execution.

    “The central committee authorises the killings and the outfit issues statements owning up to the murders they commit. So many days after the murder, there has been no statement from the Maoists,” a senior police officer said.

    Sahu points out the following: “The five attackers who the locals caught and handed over to the police are not Maoists. They are from the region.

    “Moreover, I see no reason why the Maoists will spare the policemen on duty. They would have killed them. Then, there are the leaflets that were thrown around the ashram in a very amateurish way. The Maoists are very organised. If somebody is carrying an AK-47 he must be at least a commander. And if there are four commanders to marshal the mob, there wouldn’t have been indiscriminate firing like what we saw. And last but not the least, I have never heard or seen Maoists wear masks and hoods.

    “They see themselves as revolutionaries. They never care about whether they are seen or not. In fact, I would say, they would very much want to be seen,” Sahu said.

    Then, the most important question? Did the Swami’s activities in the jungle in any way make him an enemy of the Maoists? “Chances are very less. He was working for the welfare of the tribal people and against forced conversions in the region. There is nothing that suggests the Maoists would see him as a class enemy,” a senior officer said.

    A local outfit, the Hindu Jagran Manch said the Swami had mentioned to an office bearer that some Maoists had joined him in a program he had organsied for the tribal people. “One day last year, I was talking to the Swami on phone, and that time there was a lot of concern about his security. So, he said, don’t you people worry. The Maoists are not a threat to me. In fact some of them are here with me,” said Lakshmikanth Das, an officer bearer of the HJM.

    But do these factors clearly rule out the role of the Maoists? It is tricky, say many experts who have been following left wing extremism. “The best way this could be phrased is: ‘We do not rule out the involvement of the Maoists’.” Sahu said.

    There are many reasons why the experts are undecided. “After the December 2007 clashes, even the Hindu outfits agreed that the Maoists are working in tandem with militant Christian outfits,”

    Sahu agreed: “A lot of Maoists were converts to Christianity and were involved in the December violence. But this attack does not look like their work,” Sahu said.

    The Maoists have long claimed that most of Orissa falls under the ‘liberated zone’. Kandhamal district with its desnse forest cover is a haven for them. In fact, the police had claimed that the recent attack on a police party in Nayagarh, where the Maoists dealt a spectacular blow to the Orissa police, was planned and coordinated from Kandhamal.

    If not the Maoists, who could have killed the Swami? The needle of suspicion swings towards the militant Christian outfits. “Let’s face it, said Sahu, “even in times when the Maoist-militant Christian nexus was a possibility, there were numerous attacks and attempts on the Swami’s life.”

    “There is a high possibility that this is the handiwork of militant Christian outfits. How they got such sophisticated weapons is something for the government to figure out,” said Sahu.

    “The government’s responsibility to bring those responsible to book increases when you take into account the fact that the Swami received an anonymous threat only a week before he was killed. The local SP did not even register a case after the Swami lodged a formal complaint. They have to answer a lot of questions or this issue will snowball into a bigger issue than the December violence,” Das concluded.

    The onus now rests on the government, which has been boxed in from almost all sides.

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