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ICC Note: Christians are still awaiting justice a decade after India’s worst instance of Christian persecution. In 2008, anti-Christian riots swept across the Kandhamal District of Odisha State, leaving many Christians dead, 395 churches demolished or vandalized, and more than 56,000 people displaced. Ten years later, justice has still not been served to most of the victims as shabby police work following the riots has inhibited most legal efforts.    

08/24/2018 India (The Indian Express) – Surendra Nayak, a survivor of riots in Odisha’s Kandhamal, says he tries to forget the horrors of 2008, but the throbbing pain in his foot pierced by a spear keeps the fear fresh in his mind.

“For years, I wet my bed because of nightmares,” says the 48-year-old. “Like an animal, I was chased through the streets of Tiangia Budedipada village (of Raikia block) by men with swords, spears and tridents hooting, hollering and hurling insults at my faith.”

Surendra says he survived because he ran into the jungle.

The riots, which left 39 Christians dead and 395 churches vandalized, had broken out after a well-known ascetic in Kandhamal, Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, was shot dead on August 23, 2008, and his body mutilated.

Lawyers for the riot-affected Pana Catholics say they still await legal closure on cases related to the riots.

“Due to poor police investigation, 4,000 people were acquitted,” says the community’s lawyer Father Dibakar Parichcha. “Some of the ring leaders, who were convicted because of overwhelming evidence, are out on bail.”

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