Jharkhand Bishop backs Maoist cause

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on May 27, 2010

Even as Home Minister P Chidambaram keeps on asking the intellectuals and rights activists in the country to declare their position on the war against Maoists, a Christian Bishop in Jharkhand, one of the states hit worst by the Maoist menace, is openly justifying their cause.

Claiming that the Church and the Maoists are waging war against the same social evils, Bishop Charles Soreng, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, says in an interview, “In this (the tribals’) fight for equal opportunities and rights, the Maoists are coming to the aid of the tribals, especially in glaring cases of denial of justice and rights. That is the reason for the wider appeal that the Maoists enjoy.”

In the interview published in the May 6 edition of Sathyadeepam, a Catholic weekly published from Kochi, the Bishop admits that the Maoists are sympathetic to the Church and are supporting the priests in carrying out their missionary activities. “…There are some honest people who are really working for justice. They are working against greed for money and power…,” he says. He also says that Maoists do not attack the priests because “Christians are serving the poor and are working for getting justice to the poor.”

Bishop Soreng indirectly says that all the violence reported from the Red Corridor need not be perpetrated by the Maoists. “The real Maoists will not attack the people. There are others who loot the people in the name of Maoists,” he says but stops short of revealing the identity of these “other people”. He warns the Government that it cannot check the Maoists unless and until it paid attention to the rights and justice for the rural poor and “also take care of the problem of corruption.”

“We do not advocate violence, but the Maoists are making a point by targeting our corrupt system, which marginalizes and renders the tribals outcasts in society,” Bishop Soreng tells Sathyadeepam. He believes that the root cause of the Maoist menace is the rampant corruption in the society, especially in Jharkhand.

“Corruption has put employment out of the reach of the poor, because only those who can give hefty sums (as bribe) get a government job. The consequent high rate of unemployment among poor youth makes Maoism an attractive option for them,” the Bishop says. “Corruption and government apathy are the two main factors that have helped the Maoists to become so formidable a force,” he adds.

Agreeing with the interviewer’s suggestion that under globalization, which is allegedly thriving on some sort of greed, it is difficult for the marginalized and the poor to get justice, Bishop Soreng says that proper checks and balances should be put in place for controlling the market economy. “Unless it is controlled and made human, keeping the welfare of the citizens as topmost priority, it will jeopardize social peace,” he suggests.

Fr Stephen Alathara, spokesperson and deputy secretary general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), said that Bishop Soreng’s opinion need not be those of the Church. “The KCBC does not hold such an opinion. These could be his personal thoughts,” he said, adding that he was yet to read the interview.

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