Christians in India Concerned by Lack of Convictions Connected to 2008 Riots

ICC Note: Indian Christians have expressed concern over the lack of convictions following investigations into the 2008 Kandhamal Riots. Still considered India’s worst instance of anti-Christian violence, over 100 Christians were killed by radical Hindu mobs over the course of three months. Since the end of the violence, only 78 individuals have been convicted out of the 6,500 that were arrested.  

09/13/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – The man spearheading the campaign for “justice” for the victims of the worst case of anti-Christian violence in India’s history has denounced the failure of the Odisha state government to follow up on a Supreme Court order to investigate why there have been so few criminal convictions despite nearly 6,500 arrests.

Almost 100 Christians were killed in the Kandhamal district of Odisha in August 2008 following claims Christians were behind the killing of a Hindu leader, Swami Laxmanananda Sarawati. Three hundred churches and 6,000 Christian homes were also attacked, rendering 56,000 people homeless.

Yet, despite 6,495 arrests and 827 criminal cases being registered against alleged perpetrators, India’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation in August 2016 as to why there had been only 78 convictions.

“Such a large proportion [of acquittals] is very disturbing,” said Chief Justice T. S. Thakur, as he delivered his verdict on 2 August, 2016, on what he called “inadequate” compensation paid to the victims of the violence. He ordered the state government to investigate “wherever acquittals were not justified on facts”.

But two years later, campaigner Father Ajay Singh, speaking at an event in Odisha on 29 August to mark the ten-year anniversary of the violence, said “nothing has happened two years after the Supreme Court made this order”.

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