The Minority Commission of the Congress led UPA government has given Minority Man award to Father Ajay Singh, a Catholic priest, on July 5, 2013 in New Delhi who is known for playing a dubious role in the Kandhamal violence that took place in the year 2008. Ajay Singh was heading Jan Vikas at that time which was allegedly responsible for inciting riots in Kandhamal area.
The Minority Commission has given award to Ajay Singh inspite of a stiff opposition from the district and senior police officials of Odisha. The officials categorically conveyed to the Minority Commission that if the award was given to Ajay Singh, then it will hurt the sentiments of not only the tribals of Kandhamal, but the entire state because the tribals consider him responsible for dividing them into Hindu and Christian groups. He is known for converting the innocent people of Kandhamal through Proselytisation.
According to the reports which appeared in a section of media, two names were cropped up for the award. One was Teesta Setalwad who has fought for justice for the victims of Gujarat riots in 2002 and another was Ajay Singh, recommended by the Church leaders, who are also members of the Minority Commission. After lot of discussions, the Catholic Church lobby within the Minority Commission prevailed over others and finally Ajay Singh's name was finalized and Teesta's name was dropped.
Defending the decision of the Minority Commission, Wajahat Habibullah, chairman of Minority Commission said that the district administration and senior officials of Odisha have expressed their opinion on Ajay Singh. But, he does not have any criminal record again him.
By influencing the minority commission to give the award to Ajay Singh, Church has been successful in providing government stamp to Ajay Singh's alleged conversion activities in Kandhamal area. It has also sent a message that the Congress led UPA government is behind him and he can accelerate his conversion activities as usual.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had already opposed the Minority Commission's decision to give award to the Catholic priest. In a letter to the Commission, VHP has stated that it was against the decision of Minority Commission to give award to Ajay Singh.
As apprehended by the senior officials of Odisha government, this may lead to resurfacing of disturbance in Kandhamal and the peace process may get disturbed. And, the Communal forces may take advantage of this situation and they may politically polarise the voters before Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly poll due next year.
This kind of situation may also help the Christians organizations to mobiles more funds from the international agencies in the name of Persecution of the minority communities.
To conclusion, the Minority Commission has committed a big mistake by giving award to a controversial Christian priest. It has reopened the Pandora box and there is a great threat to the reversal of peace process and the secular fabric is in danger in Kandhamal. There appears to be national and international conspiracy once again to disturb peace and communal harmony in Kandhamal. And, all need to be vigilant from these forces in the larger interest of India.Editor's Note:
RL Francis Is President of Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM).