BJP Government Shows its Communal Fascist Colours in Karnataka

The BJP Government in Karnataka has taken just over three months to come out in its true colours. The Karnataka chapter of the Sangh Parivar has matched its Orissa counterpart in its communal fascist offensive against Christians.

A bandh organized by Catholic Christian institutions in the state against the Kandhamal violence was the ostensible trigger for the RSS outfits to unleash a reign of terror against the minorities. Churches and Christian institutions were attacked and burnt in Mangalore, Udupi, Ujire, Kundapur, Kolar, Chickaballapur, Davangere, Bangalore, Shimoga, Harapanalli, Puttur, Suratkal and so many other towns. Though the Sangh Parivar and in tune with it the CM claims that these attacks are provoked by ‘forcible conversions,’ the pogrom is clearly premeditated.

12 prayer halls were attacked by Bajrang Dal activists in Dakshina Canara, Udupi and Chickamagalur districts on September 7 2008. There were some stabbing incidents two days later injuring 3 people. More churches were under attack three days later as Bajrang Dal brigades launched attacks in Belthangady, Ujjire, Kolar and Chickamagalur towns. The pulpit and Bible in one of the churches were doused with kerosene and burnt. A statue of Mary in Kolar town was also desecrated on the same day. A prayer hall in Chickaballapur town near Bangalore was attacked and some evangelist groups were attacked in Davangere, Harapanahalli. A Dakshin Canara Bandh was organized by Sri Ram Sene, an offshoot of the Bajrang Dal. The violence then spread to new areas like Kudremukh and surrounding towns of Chickamagalur.

After weeks of silence and soft-pedalling, the UPA Government at the Centre made some noises about Article 355. The Sangh and BJP promptly replied with a fresh assault on three churches in Mangalore.

The Sangh claimed that a pamphlet supposedly issued by the New Life, an evangelist group in Mangalore, contained derogatory remarks about Hindu gods and goddesses. But the printing press mentioned in the pamphlet does not exist as on date, as it was closed 10 years ago. The owner of the same press is running a weaving business. The book seems to be 10 years old. In any case, if at all the pamphlets were inflammatory, the government should have taken proper legal action by confiscating the books and instituting an enquiry. But the Chief Minister himself justified the violence a la Modi as a Hindu “backlash” against ‘forced conversions’.

Mahendra Kumar, the state leader of Bajrang Dal declared in a press conference immediately after the attacks on September 7 that Bajrang Dal was responsible for the attacks; in spite of this, the State Government refused to arrest him. He was eventually arrested only on September 20 which has spiralled fresh round of attacks on churches even in Bangalore city. The state government had was forced to order a judicial probe only after the warning from the Union government. Though the Government claims that the situation is under control, the attacks continue and the Christian community is terrorised.

Bajrang Dal and Sri Ram Sene had penetrated deep into the country side before the BJP government came to power. During the tenure of the JDS-BJP coalition government, Coastal Karnataka were the hotbed of the Sangh’s communal politics. The Bababudangiri shrine was another key point of the BJP and RSS campaign of communal consolidation. The Sangh Parivar’s attack on Seetharam, editor of Karavali Ale, was another incident aimed at communal polarisation.

Coastal Karnataka is known for its communal harmony from time immemorial and has a large section of minorities, both Muslims and Christians. The 2008 assembly elections saw BJP failing to achieve much success in this belt as Congress could snatch its vote share. While in the 2004 elections, BJP secured 17 seats with 43.49% vote share, in 2008 it could secure only 12 seats with 41.03% vote share. Now, with an eye on the coming Parliamentary elections, the BJP government is trying for a political polarization along communal lines as it aims to recover the lost the ground in the Coastal belt and Kolar region.

Progressive forces including CPI(ML) are holding a protest rally against the communal violence in Davangere on September 23 2008. All sects of Christians have formed a common platform to fight against the communal onslaught.

If at all the BJP government can boast of any achievement in its first 100 days, it is the attempt to turn Karnataka into another Gujarat.


CPI(ML) Protests Communal Offensive

Against the offensive on Christians in Orissa, CPI(ML) held protests on September 1 in Bhubaneswar, and also held statewide protests in Jharkhand as well as in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) on the same date. On 28 August effigies of Navin Patnaik were burnt at many places all over UP. In UP, the party has also investigated and protested against the communal violence against Muslims fanned up by Yogi Adityanath in connivance with the Mayawati government.

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