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PUCL, March 2009

From Kandhamal to Karavali:
The ugly face of Sangh Parivar

[ Full report pdf, +1 Mb ]

The attacks on Christians, their homes and churches in the
States of Orissa and Karnataka by the Bajrang Dal and other
associates and affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
(usually referred to as Sangh Parivar) in the months of August
and September 2008 (it continued further, well into November,
in Orissa) has understandably caused anger, and not only among

But it could not have caused surprise. The attacks were due,
given the pathology of the idea and the political strategy of ‘laboratories’
of murder, rape and arson. After the Gujarat carnage of
2002, the leaders of the Sangh Parivar - not merely the rabid
Praveen Togadia but the smooth talking types such as Arun
Jaitley and Jaswant Singh and the uncle-ji and aunty-ji types
such as Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj - went on TV saying
brazenly that the ‘Gujarat experiment’ was a great success
and would be replicated all over India. Insofar as Orissa is concerned,
Subhash Chouhan, State Convenor of the Bajrang Dal,
has been quoted as having said to social scientist Angana
Chatterjee, that ‘In India, Orissa is the second Hindu Rajya’
(Gujarat being the first).

The replicable element of Gujarat was that the minorities
would be brutally beaten down into accepting their subordinate
status in Bharat that would be Hindu India. They have achieved
it over considerable parts of the northern and western parts of
India. Karnataka has long been spoken of by them as the gateway
to the South, and the Kandhamal district of Orissa opens to
the South or the East, depending on where one looks from.
Indeed the refugees from the Kandhamal of August-September
2008 have run both ways: South or South-East to Visakhapatnam
and North or North-East to Cuttack and beyond.

From Kandhamal to Karavali: The Ugly Face Of Sangh Parivar 5
There is an odd link between the two attacks, which speaks of
the brazenness of the Sangh Parivar in relation to their crimes.
The attack in Orissa started on 24th August. On 29th August the
Christian educational institutions in Karnataka closed down for
just one day in protest against the attacks in Orissa. Such protests
probably took place elsewhere too, but Karnataka has a Sangh
Parivar government, which took serious objection to the protest
and called for an explanation, citing a complaint by the Bajrang
Dal! This well publicized objection, in the eyes of the Christian
community of Karnataka, set the stage for the attacks that took
place in the middle of the next month. The attackers were evidently
waiting for some such occasion ever since Yeddyurappa's
seating on the gaddi in Bengaluru.

In the Sangh Parivar, democratic India faces an enemy who
rides on the relentless spread of systematic falsehood, and brutal
execution of planned crime. The spread of falsehood is not just
through published literature but also the word of mouth through
the medium of the brahminised social strata that goes well
beyond its actual membership and encroaches into political
spaces supposedly occupied by other and even avowedly secular
forces. What is spread thus is falsehood about the country's history,
falsehood about our society, and falsehood about contemporary
persons and contemporary events. It invents lies and piles
them one upon another before beginning an attack. By the time
the attack comes, all the lies are in place.

But it does not begin with violent attacks. It bides time talking
of culture and Indian-ness, conducting Ganesh immersion
and Durga puja as public demonstrations of its vision of Hindu
cultural assertion accompanied by speech-making and commentary
of saffron vintage, until the atmosphere is propitious to pull
out the trishuls and the talwars. For that it often awaits the ascendancy
to power of its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) in the particular State or region, which would put the
administration - in particular the police - in their control.

The organisations that are signatories to this report know this
to be the truth about the heirs of Hedgewar and Golwalkar. We
begin with this knowledge of the evil we are confronted with,
which need not be discovered again and again. Fact finding in
From Kandhamal to Karavali: The Ugly Face Of Sangh Parivar 6
the jungles of Kandhamal or the hills and plains of western
Karnataka is not to prove this truth but only to study the ways in
which it operationalises itself, and to identify the chasms in our
social make-up that it makes use of for its purpose so that one
may learn what to look for in other likely ‘laboratories’ and how
to stop the ‘experiment’ before it takes off.

From Andhra Pradesh:
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC)
Human Rights Forum (HRF)
Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR)

From Karnataka:
Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF)
Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Karnataka State Unit

From Puducherry:
Federation for Peoples Rights (FPR)

From Tamil Nadu:
Committee for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL)
Peoples Union for Human Rights (PUHR)

From Mumbai:
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR)

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014