March in Delhi to condemn Orissa communal riots

October 13th, 2008 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) Shocked over the alleged rape of a nun in Orissa, students and activists held a protest march here Monday demanding punishment to the perpetrators of communal riots in the state.”Rape of a nun in Orissa is rape of democracy; Punish the perpetrators; shame on government’s inaction,” the slogan shouting protesters said condemning the violence in Orissa.

Organised by the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), the march that commenced at Jantar Mantar near Parliament Street was held to call attention to the “inadequacy of the government in dealing with perpetrators” and “focus on the plight of women caught in the violence, and precarious conditions in refugee camps in Orissa”.

“Such acts of violence are blatant assaults on our democracy and constitution. The central government’s response has, so far, been disappointing,” said Kavita Krishnan, national secretary AIPWA.

She alleged that Hindu rightwing groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were behind the communal riots.

“The fact that perpetrators from extremist groups like the RSS, VHP roam free is testimony to the fact that they are being supported,” Krishnan said,

A nun was allegedly raped Aug 26 in the Kandhamal district of Orissa, where communal clashes have claimed around 35 lives and rendered thousands homeless in the past nearly two months.

The violence targeting Christians and their places of worship began after a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and four of his aides were killed Aug 23.

The march, Krishnan said, was timed to coincide with a shutdown being observed in six of the affected districts in Orissa to press for a ban on radical groups like the VHP and RSS.

“It’s impossible to turn a blind eye to such incidents when you know that this isn’t the first of such acts. We all remember the communal clashes in Gujrat 2002, then the BJP was at the centre. Now the UPA-led government is playing the soft communal card,” said Tanika Shanker, a history professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

“The government is doing nothing,” Shanker said.

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