The Times Online is reporting this story about Hindus and Christians killing each other in the state of Orissa, in Eastern India. Many lives have been lost and thousands of people have lost all property and loved ones and remain in hiding. This story comes at the heels of a spate of communal terrorist acts that has hit India in the recent months. The government is powerless to act because the poison that religion is, it seeps into the very machinery that is meant to protect the people from the ideological elements. Here is an excerpt from the Article:
In the remote Indian state of Orissa your religion can cost you your life. Now a Christian mob has resorted to murder. Wielding knives and axes they have stabbed a Hindu man to death.
The killing followed a month-long campaign of murder, gang rape and arson by Hindu fanatics that drove Christians to take up arms to defend themselves, church officials in the area said yesterday. As many as 50,000 members of the minority Christian community have been forced into hiding in the jungle.
The Hindu man was killed near the town of Raikia in the Kandahmal district, which in the past month has featured some of the worst anti-Christian violence in India since partition.
“Christians have defended themselves after their houses were burnt down by Hindus. The two groups clashed,” Father Ajay Singh said from the office of the Archbishop in Bhubaneshwar, the state capital. Praveen Kumar, a senior local policeman, confirmed the account.
The Home Ministry in Delhi, which faces international criticism for failing to stamp out the violence, admitted that a situation of apparent lawlessness now reigns in the state.
Police are investigating unconfirmed reports of Christian militias being formed, with some attempting to make bombs. The reports have been denied by Christian leaders.
Similar tensions are simmering across India, where at least 45 Christians have died at the hands of Hindu fanatics in recent weeks, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Government officials, who in some areas have been accused of being complicit in the tragedy, have put the death toll at 27
The communal violence in India is just one of the reasons why religion should be condemned and removed from the public sphere. Not a single political figure will ever say those words. No more can India pride itself as a tolerant nation with many communities living in harmony, its people touting Mahatma Gandhi as their standard bearer and following in a tradition of non-violence. Gandhi has died in our imagination and what’s left is the searing hatred that is the mark of religious intolerance.