CHENNAI: After the Kanyakumari district police in Tamil Nadu arrested Father George Ponnaiah under the Kuzhithurai archdiocese on delivering hate speech hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community, the DMK government of M.K. Stalin has given a stern message that the state would not tolerate religious bigotry. The government was also keen that there were no untoward incidents of communal violence in the state.
The arrest of the Catholic priest took place on July 24 and he was subsequently remanded to judicial custody for 15 days. While the priest denied the charges, the Kuzhithurai archdiocese came out against the speech of the priest.
In another incident of religious intolerance a few miscreants placed an Idol of Lord Ganesha at a barren land near a church property in Tiruchengode, the police immediately swung into action and arrested four people. The incident occurred on August 2.
These two incidents are a clear example of the DMK government taking an intolerant stand against hate speeches and actions tantamount to hurting the communal sentiments of a community or religion. While Tamil Nadu has had a history of communal amity, there have been incidents of miscreants trying to break the peace and amity among various religions and turning into major incidents of violence.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, planning to convert the state into an investment destination and focusing on Rs 1,00,000 crore investments in the five years of his tenure, has already communicated to the religious groups and communities in no uncertain terms that he would not allow any communal fights or communal violence to erupt in the state.
The state to bring in communal harmony and to project the state as a place for communal harmony is planning a new law for communal harmony. Tamil Nadu Congress leader and Chairman of State minority commission, Peter Alphonse has already come out in the open advocating a new law for communal harmony in the state. Taking a cue from this Chief Minister has called upon the state law department and home department to moot a proposal regarding the same.
With the state focusing more on investments and modernisation and to increase its GDP, Stalin is clear that he would not tolerate any untoward incident that disturbs his goal for converting Tamil Nadu into the most industrial friendly state in the country.
Balamurali Narayanan of Action and Care , Tamil Nadu and based out of Madurai told IANS, “The arrest of Father George Ponniah and his subsequent remand in judicial custody is a clear message given by the Chief Minister that he and his home department would not tolerate any communal hatred. The removal of the idol planted at a barren land by certain miscreants was also removed and the people behind it booked is again a message of the Chief Minister as to where his mind is. With the new law on communal harmony also being mooted, Stalin is clearly bringing out a message that he is for communal harmony and peace and that he means it.”
He said that these are clear indicators and measures to portray before the world at large that the state government is strong against any communal hate and that he won’t tolerate any communal skirmishes in the state.
The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) ministry of the state government has taken a bold step of converting the chanting of ‘archanas’ in Tamil, and 47 big temples have commenced this, which is another indicator that the government would pro-actively involve itself in the religious affairs. The HR&CE department is also active in retrieving the 40,000 acres of the temple land which was lost since 1985 as per the records showing disparity between the temple title documents of 1985 and 2020. The HR& CE department has already taken over around 650 acres of land ever since the government assumed office from encroachers and other people who had taken over the temple land.
This again is an open measure that the state government would not tolerate any encroachment on religious properties, at the same time would not give up to any religious extremism or communal rift.
With taking strong measures against communal hatred and involving actively in the religious affairs within the ambit of the government, the DMK, and in particular Chief Minister is giving a message that the government means business and that he and the government would not remain a silent spectator in these issues.