INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

A Thousand Small Fires

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Last month, a senior Maoist in Orissa was arrested for the gruesome murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati, a leader of the VHP. The VHP (roughly traslated as ‘World Hindu Congress) is one of the more radical and militant groups which make up the Sangh Parivar, an association of Hindu revivalist (or fundamentalist, depending on one’s sympathies) organisations which include India’s second party, the BJP. (more recently the Moaists killed a leader of the RSS, another Hindu revivalist group).

After the murder, a VHP-called bandh quickly degenerated into a communal blood letting which killed scores and left thousands homeless

The tension between Hindu activists and Orissa’s growing Christian community has been seething for years. As in much of the rest of India, conversion to Christianity is seen my many dalits (untouchables) and adivasi (tribal forest-dwellers) as a way of escaping from the strictures of the caste system.Missionary activity and conversions have been particularly controversial in the state.

In 1999, a foreign Protestant minister was beheaded and, more recently, the state has banned conversions and religious proselytization.

Enter the Maoists. Orissa is part of the Central Indian Naxalite heartland. It is a poor state with an isolated and marginalised adivasi population in the western districts. The Maoists have been able to mobilise support by championing the cause of both the adivasi and the Christian minorities (who are more often than not one and the same).

The state is a tinderbox which is easily ignite on communal lines. It is one of the small fires and seething discontents across India which the Maoists are effectively fuelling for their own long-term strategic aims.


Written by Michael

May 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

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