Kandhamal Riots Result of Conversion, Reconversion: Commission
A judicial commission investigating last year’s Kandhamal riots in Orissa has said that conversion and re-conversion resulted in clashes.
“Sources of the violence were deeply rooted in land disputes, conversion and re-conversion and fake certificate issues,” Justice S C Mohapatra, heading the one-man panel, said in his interim report on the violence in Kandhamal which claimed 43 lives besides damaging many houses and churches.
Nevertheless, he shunned an elaboration on the conversion and re-conversion issue.
“Suspicion among the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste inhabitants of Kandhamal is the main cause of riots with the tribals suspecting that ‘Pano’ dalits were capturing their land through fraudulent means,” Justice Mohapatra said.
Justice Mohapatra said that besides the issue of land and conversion and reconversion, fake certificates caused discontent to emerge and rise among Kandha tribals who constitute 52 per cent of Kandhamal’s population.
To put to an end differences between the communities, he said that the government should take steps in the regard soon.
“I know it will take at least two years to complete inquiry, but interim report will help the government to make immediate intervention,” he said.
Justice Mohapatra said in his 28-page report that most Kandha tribals were uneducated and were under the impression that quotas meant for them were being availed of by ‘Pana’ Dalits, who were Christians.
This was another factor behind tribal anger, he said suggesting the state government expedite freeing of tribal land in possession of non-tribals, take up fake certificate cases and remain vigilant to conversion and re-conversion.
“Once the basic issues are addressed, the Kandhamal problem could be solved,” he said.
Replying to a question, Justice Mohapatra said he had not blamed anybody for the violence in the interim report.
Sources, however, said the commission which was set up on September 3 last year could fix responsibility for the violence on any organisation or government body.
In the interim report, Justice Mohapatra had not blamed any religious body or the CPI (Maoist) which claimed responsibility for killing of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati on August 23 last year.
Killing of Saraswati and four of his associates had triggered large-scale violence in Kandhamal which evoked condemnation from many quarters in the country and abroad.