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Riot-hit Kandhamal comes out to vote in huge numbers

ICC Note: This news is encouraging and shows that the anti-Christian violence from last August in Orissa has not deterred Christians from voting in the Indian elections.

By Jajati Karan
04/17/09 India (CNN-IBN) – Kandhamal, the Orissa district that was hit by anti-Christian violence last year, showed its faith in the democratic system with a massive voter turnout on the first phase polling on Thursday.

Ninety per cent of those living in refugee camps came to vote, 50 per cent all over the district.

Voters said, “Dar ke bawajood hum sab vote karne aaye… jo candidate hamare liye kaam karega, usko vote denge…jo yeh situation hai, jo uske liye kaam karega, usko vote denge” (In spite of dangers, we are here to vote. We will vote the person who will work for our upliftment.)

Six months after riots turned them into refugees in their own land, the Christians of Kandhamal turned up in huge numbers to vote. Defying all predictions of low polling and their own reluctance.

Kandhamal riot victim Manoj Naik said, hum ne pehle kaha tha ki hum vote nahi denge…lekin humne diya…kyunki hum vote nahi denge to BJP jeetega (earlier we had said we would not vote, but we decided to vote because if we didn’t, the BJP could win.)

Much of the credit for this turnaround goes to the district administration which went on a security overdrive to ensure a safe election. 72 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed across the state, 22 companies in Kandhamal alone… [Go To Full Story]