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ICC Note:

A prayer campaign have been launched for the release of seven innocent Christian prisoners accused of killing Swami Laxmanananda in 2008. The murder of Laxmanananda sparked the infamous anti-Christian Kandhamal  riots which are still considered India’s worst instance of Christian persecution. A conspiracy blaming Christians for the murder caused mass riots that lasted weeks and led to the seven Christians currently serving life sentences to be convicted. Much of the evidence in the case points to the innocence of these Christians and many are praying to see them released. 

10/17/2017 India (UCAN) – A prayer campaign for seven ‘innocent’ Christians convicted in Kandhamal case and languishing in jail for nine years was launched on October 15 at Kochi at a seminar titled ‘What happened in Kandhamal?’

Along with journalist Anto Akkara, who has been spearheading campaign for justice for Kandhamal’s ‘innocents’, six participants from the Jesus Youth professional forum wearing white shirts held out posters of the prayer card around the digital screen displaying portraits of the seven convicts as the prayers were recited in both Malayalam and English.

“Faith must lead to action. Each Christian has a duty to raise one’s voice and pray for the seven innocent Christians languishing in jail for nine years,” urged Akkara, journalist author who has virtually proved the innocence of the Christians with his investigative book ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’\

These innocent Christians – six of them illiterates – were arrested following the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Odisha’s Kandhamal on August 23, 2008. They were convicted in 2013 for the murder touted as a Christian conspiracy.

Following the Hindu leader’s mysterious murder, nearly 100 Christians had been killed and 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses plundered and torched in unabated violence that continued for weeks. Hindu masses – most of them illiterate – had been incited to take revenge on the Christians after the slain Swami’s body was paraded across Kandhamal for two days along zigzag routes.

A third judge of the trial court – after two judges had been transferred – sentenced the accused Christians to life imprisonment on the basis of a fabricated Christian conspiracy theory despite hardly any credible evidence brought before the court. In mid-2015, two top police officials – who had relied upon the same conspiracy theory to ensure the conviction of the accused – have testified before the Kandhamal judicial Inquiry commission that the allegations were false.

Yet, the hearing on the appeal of the innocent convicts has been repeatedly postponed in the Odisha High Court.

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