New Delhi: Though violence in Kandhamal was triggered by the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, many believe that at the root of the violence was long-standing accusations by hardline Hindus that missionaries bribe poor tribals and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity.
BJP leader and MP Venkiah Naidu says, "Conversion is the root cause of the tension. The freedom to religion does not provide the freedom to denigrate other religions."
But with the prevelance of Anti-Conversion Law in Orissa, enacted way back in 1967, the state still needs to explain why haven't been any cases been filed against any missionaries if they were indulging in forced conversions.
Hindu organistaions often accuse Churches in India to be well funded agents of the West, out on a mission to destroy Hinduism. Over the years these voices have only grown stronger with Christian missionaries failing to provide any defence.
But considering that the percentage of Christians in India has remained the same - at 2.3 per cent between 1991 and 2001, the argument of the majority community seems weak.
Unfortunately with the involvement of fanatics, an issue could have been resolved with a debate, has been transformed into a battle - a battle posing a threat to the secular fabric of our nation.