Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati is a grand old man, who has served tribal people, specially Kandhs, in undivided Phulbani district of Orissa in the last couple of decades. Saffron-clad Swamiji, with his Ashram at Chakapad, has spread his wings through seva and sanskar among the tribal people in the region.
With hostility at Riakia in Kandhamal district over a Church illegally acquiring government land and local traders opposing it tooth and nail, there were attacks and counter-attacks between both the sides.
However, the Church, while concealing its effort to grab the government land, has added a conspiracy angle to the attack on the Catholic Church at Raikia and has seen the hand of Swamiji in attack on their Church. Joining the Church fraternity, the Congress and the communists have demanded arrest of Swamiji. However, there are chinks in the delegation of political leaders who visited Raikia with Orissa Gana Prishad president, Bijoy Mohapatra, differing from his Congress and communist colleagues over demand for the Swamiji'sarrest.
Organiser representative Sanjay Kumar Jena talked to Swamiji to get his perspective on the issue.
You are accused of being a conspirator in the attack on Catholic Church at Raikia?
I was at Jalaspatta when news of the attack on the Church reached me. I am in no way connected with the incident. But I can well understand the wounded psyche of Hindus against the Church. That might have made the people to attack the Church.
As far as their personal attack on me is concerned, let all the Padres, popkaks and palaks of Christianity come together and I will singularly argue with them. Let them come with their allegations on what damage I have done to their places of worship and what they have done to places of our faith. Let there be open debates so that the people can know the truth.
Hindus are wounded for what?
There was no problem when Christians were not here in Paikia. With their numbers increasing, they forcefully took away Hindu girls and forced neo-converts to eat beef. They set several temples on fire. Be it Birupakhya Mahadev'stemple or temple at Malarimaha or my Ashram at Rupagoan, the Christians conspired to set them on fire. They threw mortal remains of cows on mandirs. Kondh tribal'sGoddess Dharani Mata'splaces of worship in several villages were dishonoured. The sacred sword at a temple at Bramhanigaon was forcibly taken away by the converts who melted the sword in public and prepared their weapons. What was the need to do so?
But they are claiming service activities for the tribals?
Their only motivation is to convert the innocent tribal people through fraudulent means. In fact one entire village was converted to Christianity. They serve medicines claiming it to be the prasad of Jesus. After gaining confidence of the converts in large scale, they cheat people.
Let me ask the Church why in their orphanages they are rearing so many boys and girls? In the last so many decades the children who have grown up in orphanages, where have they gone? Have they been sent to foreign countries or sold at a price? Let them explain this.
The Kandh tribal community treats trees as their God. They do not cut forest out of fear as it is adharma. But Padres on their own cut one tree after the other saying that worshippers of Jesus can cut trees and no harm comes to them. The result has been that the forest cover is depleting day in and day out.
What in your view could bring permanent peace to this tribal-dominated region.?
First of all the Padres, popkaks and palaks have to leave the place. A register for people belonging to Christianity has to be maintained. Christians studying and doing government jobs with fake certificates of being Hindus have to be identified and deprived of the privileges meant for the tribal people. Churches built on unauthorised places like reserve forests and government lands have to be evicted; an independent probe has to be instituted into the entire episode and culprits have to be brought to book. Then only can peace return. Otherwise, the wounded feelings of Hindus would be further aggravated.