11/04/2008, 00.00
INDIA

At least 500 Christians killed in Orissa, government sources say

The official death toll stands at 31 but a fact-finding mission by a Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist team in the affected area sheds new light on the scale of the attacks and on the present conditions of the refugees. It calls for the banning of radical Hindu groups.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A representative of the local government in Orissa estimated that more than 500 people died as a consequence of the anti-Christian pogrom launched by Hindu fundamentalists. He said he personally authorised the cremation of at least 200 bodies.

The representative, on condition of anonymity, reported these facts and figures to a team sent by the Communist Party of India (CPL-ML) on a fact finding visit to Kandhamal district. Officially, according to the state government, the official death toll now stands at 31.

The CPI-ML team visited destroyed villages and refugee camps on 15-16 October, almost two months after the start of the massacre. Here team members met and interviewed magistrates and police officers. Their report signed by J P Minz was published in the November issue of the Liberation magazine.

In addition to the real number of dead the report describes the gap between government reassuring statements about the refugee camps and the real situation.

In the government version of the facts some 12,641 people who fled destruction live in 15 refugee camps where they are well-fed, have access to doctors, drugs and schooling for the children.

The CPI-ML team visited the camps in Phulbani, Tikabali, J Udaygiri and Rakiya where they found that food rations were inadequate, drugs non-existent and pregnant women were left without any medical care.

They depict an atmosphere where terror reigns among Christians, who fear for their lives if they go back.

Fundamentalist groups, who want the central government to pull back the police units it sent in, are organising themselves into armed groups, threatening anyone who refuses to convert to Hinduism.

Whilst this is going on, camp administrators are trying to get the refugees to go back home, telling them that life has gone back to normal.

The CPI-ML inquiry said that the pogrom had been in the works for some time, and that it was organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal.

For this reason it calls on the government to ban the two organisations.

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See also
Orissa: More Christian homes set on fire, three bodies fished out of river
29/09/2008
Young Christian convert thrown off a train dies
12/01/2007
Sangh Parivar wants to remove every Christian trace in Orissa
16/10/2008
Upper castes behind anti-Christian violence in Orissa
11/01/2008
Widow of murdered missionary receives award
01/02/2005