By Sanjay Kumar Jena
Two newly-trained pas-tors are playing havoc in Orissa'sKoshagumuda by targetting Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra with eggs during the annual Rath Yatra. Koshagumuda, in southern Orissa district of Nawrangpur, is one among the hundreds of places in the state where devotees organise the Rath Yatra to coincide with the major world-famous festival held at Puri.
Balchand Harijan (20) and Kusia Harijan (19) threw eggs on the deities being carried in the chariots. Their target, however, missed the deities as the Hindu priests came in the way. The pelting of eggs in quick succession on the deities on the chariots was enough to hurt the sentiments of the devotees present on the occasion.
Both the culprits were arrested on the spot by the police present in the yatra. Then the Rath Yatra proceeded ahead as per the schedule.
However, instead of initiating a strong action against the culprits, the police, after two days of detention, let them go free. Religious sentiments rose high. There was protest in entire Nawrangpur district with several Hindu organisations taking to the streets. The district administration was forced to arrest both the culprits and forward them to the court.
President of Orissa Unit of Hindu Jagaran Samukhya (HJS), a retired IPS officer, Ashok Sahu, and Bajrang Dal state convener, Subah Chouhan, denounced the incident and demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter.
?The conspiracy behind the incident must be unravelled as both the culprits are newly-converted Christians,? they said, demanding ?exemplary punish-ment? for the culprits.
Both Sahu and Chouhan said that unchecked conversion in backward areas of the state had led to the incident. They alleged that initially the police refused to take action but later the two were arrested when the local people expressed their resentment.
The police has arrested them under Sections 295 A and 34 of IPC and more stringent sections have not been applied, said the retired police official Shri Sahu, alleging softness of the people in high places of police administration towards the Christian movement in the state.
They have asked the government to make provisions in the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA) for more stringent actions and to strictly implement them.
Sahu sees sinister designs in targeting the deities in the predominantly tribal-dominated areas of Koshagumuda. According to him, firstly, the Christians are failing to accept that tribals are increasingly identifying themsel-ves with Lord Jagannath. Secondly, both the pastors who pelted eggs on the Rath Yatra had been chosen by the Church to target the deities as both belonged to the Scheduled Castes before their conversion to Christianity. The Church wants to create hostility between the tribals and the Scheduled Castes in order to fulfil its own dubious goal of promoting conversion in the state.