Orissa: Violence Against Christians Continues | Persecution

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Orissa: Violence Against Christians Continues

Orissa, Christians Ordeal Of Violence And Injustice Continues

A Christian organization draws up a long list of injustices committed against Christians in Orissa. Orissa was the scene of violent attacks against Christians in India in 2008. During that attack, Hindu radicals killed more than 100 Christians and forced more than 55,000 to leave their homes. 

09/30/2011 India (AsiaNews) – Christian victims of the pogrom in Kandhamal (Orissa) in August 2008 are not only still waiting for justice, but also to be allowed to survive. This is why Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) sent a petition yesterday, on the third anniversary of the massacres, to the judge KG Balakrishna, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi. The petition points out that there are still 54 Catholic families and Pentecostal 17 in Nandagiri, a “colony” for refugees where there is a small community hall that serves as a place of worship. The hall is under threat of demolition by the authorities even though, after the notification of demolition, there were verbal assurances that it will not be applied.

“We are once again approaching NHRC with a plea for your sympathetic consideration of the severe violation of human rights and natural justice in Kandhamal, Orissa” Sajan K. George begins in his petition. “We appeal to you to consider the helpless cries of hundreds of victims of hatred and government apathy.” Over 100 Christians were killed three years ago in the pogrom, and many thousands forced to flee into the jungle to save themselves. But the persecution continues. “Many police stations where complaints of [forced] conversions have been lodged against Christians, when questioned about why they were acting on frivolous complaints, revealed that they had orders from above that Christians who are dragged to the police station under false allegations should immediately be locked up, beaten up and denied bail by the lower judiciary, which functions as the loyal partner of the police department. Sometimes this injustice may be visible like the tip of an iceberg, but most of the time it would be invisible to an inexperienced eye”.

“Thus Kandhamal has become a test case for criminal justice, not just of the ability of the government to dismantle radical criminal gangs, but of its ability to uphold citizens’ rights (Christian) while doing so. Below are some facts of the tragedy that continues to unfold in Kandhamal to this day. ”

The list is reminiscent of the mysterious deaths, like that of Mukesh Nayak, a Christian of 43 from Baliguda, who had testified in the Kandhamal trial, the inability to arrest the killers of Pastor Saul Pradhan (08/04/2011 Orissa Police “complicit” in the death of a pastor. Demands for immediate re-trial).

The list continues with some individual examples. There is the case of Mithun Digal, of Belgadi, who has been denied the right to register with the District Employment Exchange, for specious reasons. He is denied residence, caste, and income certificates.

The problem also affects many other families besides those of Nadagiri. The petition says that “When the demented crowds attacked the Christians and destroyed their houses along with their belongings, most of the victims found shelter in the distant jungles and saved themselves from death. They ran away to those forests practically leaving everything behind since it was a matter of life and death for them. Most of them lost all identification cards for widow pension, old age pension and even the very voter identity cards. When they came back after prolonged periods of time, quite a number among them also lost the place where the house was situated along with the other pieces of land along with all their documents. Special arrangements must be made to issue all such cards to those victims who are eligible.”

The list of injustices that are still ongoing is long. During the pogroms the church of the Christian community from the village of Bakingia (Raikia) was destroyed. Then they started to rebuild it, but they were forced to stop work because of threats by radical Hindus. Just as more than two hundred children were forced to stop going to school.

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