The total scenario of Chakapad and Kandhmal is that there is a struggle between the Janjatiya identity and the church. Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was serving the region for the last 40 years through various hostels, schools and technical training institutions. He became a symbol of protecting the identity of Scheduled Tribes there. People feel that Swamiji provided them protection at all fronts, which was intolerable for the church. That is why from time to time the church had been attacking Swamiji in one form or the other.
The crowd in the funeral procession of Swamiji was very huge. Thousands and thousands of people especially the youth and women were there. There were three-four questions in everybody'smind. Soon after the attack on Swamiji, the local Superintendent of Police declared that it was an attack by Maoists. When he did not visit the spot how did he come to know that it was an attack by Maoists? Actually, it was an attack by the church goons. But the SP deliberately involved the name of Maoists to protect the church. Secondly, when the attackers, equipped with weapons, came, the policemen deployed at the ashram for the protection of Swamiji, did not check them. When they entered the ashram they found that the rooms were closed and they broke the doors and windows to enter the room of Swamiji. But there was no reaction by those policemen. Neither did they fire at them nor did they try to catch them. It means there is a plot. People claim that the policemen were also managed before killing Swamiji. It is a very big question. The people were very angry, particularly with the media, bureaucracy, police and the politicians. They ask, when Swamiji had been facing constant threats to his life why was no action taken by the administration?
It was a complete bandh in Orissa. No vehicle was on the road. The protestors even stopped the judges and the chief justice'svehicles and they had to walk on foot to their offices. When they directed the police to make way for them, it surrendered saying they cannot fire at the people.
After the bhoosamadhi of Swamiji, there was a huge procession followed by a meeting in which people demanded four things. One, there must be an earliest arrest of the culprits and they should be dealt with an iron hand. Second, all the temples, ashrams, sannyasis and their activities should be granted protection because they are serving the local people in education, food, livelihood etc. Third, the church activities should be enquired in Orissa like the Neogi Commission did in Madhya Pradesh. This is a fact that in the guise of sewa, shiksha and sahayata the church is invovled in conversion and murdering, looting and threatening the local people. There must be a thorough enquiry into their activities in every state by any bench, board or committee. Four, anti-conversion law should be enacted in every state and the Centre should enforce that strictly. When any state moves forward for banning the conversion nobody except Christians make a hue and cry. People feel even Muslims do not oppose it. If the church is moving on right path why is it worried? Opposition to the anti-conversion bill makes it automatically clear that the church is involved in illegal activities.
The call by the church to close the schools on August 29 and bringing the students to the streets is illegal. The children, who go there for education, will be debarred from education. Their mind should be open for all the religions. But by this act their mind will be polluted. It is anti-constitutional and a criminal offence on the part of the church to involve the children in such activities. We wish to advise the parents of those children also that they should clearly tell the school authorities to stop it otherwise they should withdraw their wards from the church-run schools. The government should also take a stern action against this call of the church.
There is a question for Rome also since it is not open for all religions including the Protestants. It is the most fundamentalist and communal city in the world. How can we hope on the part of the Vatican or the Pope to deliver any good for the world? When they do not respect other religions how can they be symbol of brotherhood and peace? It is time the Pope changed his attitude and the church realised that it should respect all the ways of worships.
People in Orissa are on the streets today. They feel that they have been made orphan by the church. Swami Laxmanananda was the real protector of them who thought about their education, food, clothes and their identity. Now by pressurising the Prime Minister and the President the Vatican and the church want to conceal their illegal deeds. People have concrete evidence proving the church hand in this incident and ignoring those evidences would make the situation worse there, they feel.
(The writer is senior RSS Pracharak and Member of RSS National Executive. He visited Kandhamal district after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati)