Central government a ‘silent spectator’ of Orissa violence: CPI-M


New Delhi : Criticising the United Progressive Alliance, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Saturday said the central government had remained a “silent spectator” even as Christians in Orissa were being targeted.

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“It is almost a week since the violence against Christians started in Orissa. The central government has maintained an observer status and is allowing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists to target poor people,” CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat told reporters here.

Karat, who was stopped from entering the violence-hit Kandhamal district of Orissa Friday on security grounds, said: “VHP leader Praveen Togadia was allowed to take out a funeral procession of Swami Lakshmanand, but we were stopped from entering the area.”

She said she will submit victims’ first-hand reports, collected by the party’s Orissa unit, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding immediate action and protection of the minorities in Orissa.

“Since many areas in Orissa, including Kandhamal, are under Schedule 5 of the constitution (areas and tribes needing special protection due to disadvantageous conditions), the central government has an added responsibility,” Karat said.

Accusing the Orissa government of providing protection to VHP members, she said: “In spite of shoot-at-sight orders and curfew in several districts, the violence against the (Christian) community continues. It shows the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in coalition (with the Biju Janata Dal) in the Orissa government, is providing patronage to the carnage,” she said.

“Thousands of people are homeless as their houses are burnt by VHP activists. Police have refused to register FIRs (first information reports),” Karat said.

Karat said one more CPI-M delegation will leave for Orissa Tuesday to take stock of the situation.

The killing of Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati, a VHP leader, and four others in Kandhamal district last Saturday had triggered communal violence, in which at least 11 people have been killed.

Karat also asked the government to investigate the involvement of Bajrang Dal and VHP in terrorist activities.

“There is evidence that Bajrang Dal and VHP members are involved in bomb-making and the government should investigate the matter and take necessary steps,” she added.