Millennium's dark decade

Post-Kandhamal violence

Normalcy and peace have returned to Orissa’s Kandhamal district since the August 2008 communal riots which raged for almost three months claiming more than 40 lives and rendering thousands homeless.

The scar of the unprecedented violence is yet to be erased from the minds of the people, some of whom have left the district for good, preferring to reside outside.

Kandhamal had always been home to  minor clashes between scheduled castes, many of them Christians, and Hindu majority scheduled tribes. These minor incidents turned into a major riot in 2008 after the killing of Hindu religious leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, accused of forced conversions to Hinduism.

Of the nearly 1,000 people charge sheeted by the state police,  some have been convicted, including a BJP legislator, who has since move the Orissa high court. While trial is on against many others, some have been freed.  against his conviction. The state government-appointed judicial commission  is yet to submit its final report.

Church attacks and after
The coastal city of Mangalore in Karnataka was known for communal harmony for centuries. In fact, legend has it that a number of Hindus saved children belonging to minority community (by disguising them) when Tipu Sultan’s men arrested the minorities.

A ‘silly’ incident of a ‘Hindu group’ chasing a truck carrying cattle on October  4, 2006, led to a Mangalore blockade and a curfew. Since then, things changed for the worse. Boys seen speaking to girls of another community were beaten up by ‘moral police’  espousing Hindu culture.

The serial church attacks of September 14-15, 2008 came as a major shocker,  the news spreading fast on the Internet. Scribes from as far as the US desended on Mangalore to cover the incidents. Though a commission of inquiry appointed by the state has given its verdict, the cases booked against several innocent youth are yet to be withdrawnnataka.

The aftermath of Godhra
The Gujarat riots of 2002, which took a toll of more than 1,000 lives, have been grabbing headlines for more than a decade now. Though the trial process is on in several courts of Gujarat, verdicts have also been delivered in the infamous Best bakery case and Bilkis Bano rape. Despite several years, there is an uneasy equation between the majority Hindus and minority Muslims but what keeps both communities going are the business interests that co-exist for both sides.

Take the example of the popular Uttarayan or the kite festival of Gujarat. The kite and manjha (thread) makers are primarily from the minority communities but the festival is celebrated by the local Gujaratis. So when the festival nears, all differences are buried and brisk business is on. It is this basic trait of multiplying money that has kept the communities going even after the ghastly riots.

— S T Beuria in Bhubaneswar, Ronald Anil Fernandes in Mangalore, Swati Bhan in Ahmedabad.

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