Stop the horror show by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (SEPTEMBER 03, 2008)

The orgy of murder, arson and loot targeting Christians in Orissa continues unabated as the state plays a dumb spectator, writes Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

What is happening in Orissa today is a replay of an endless number of similar anti-minority pogroms staged in different areas of the country at different times. Some of the more infamous incidents of the recent past are: anti-Sikh riots of 1984, post-Babri Masjid demolition riots against Muslims in Mumbai (1992-93) and the anti-Muslim pogrom of Gujarat (2002). All these had state complicity in some measure.

The Orissa killings follow the same pattern: the state government (which has the support of BJP) is looking the other way as churches are burnt down, nuns and priests are murdered and common Christians butchered. According to the latest official count 558 houses and 17 churches have been burnt down. People are fleeing en masse, running from marauders, who have a free run of the place.

This horror show is being telecast on TV news channels and detailed reports are published in newspapers. The ordeal of Christians seems to have no end. Every few months Orissa’s Christians have been routinely attacked in similar fashion over the last few years. The attackers have always gone unscathed.

One reason for the state government’s ineffectiveness in curbing the killings (of which no official figures are available) is that it is supported by BJP, which is known for its anti-Christian, anti-Muslim stance. You cannot expect any action from such a government.

We remember the adage, “Nero fiddles while Rome burns”. Who is the Nero here? Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik? Or, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? The failure is evident at both levels. Law and order is a “state subject” in India’s Constitution. Hence Naveen (Nero) Patnaik must get out of his slumber and act.

In case this man fails, the Union government has to intervene quickly. And effectively. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must rise to the occasion, if he wishes not to be remembered as the 21st century version of Nero.


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