05/06/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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2008 Orissa massacres: Christians fast for justice

by Nirmala Carvalho
A dharma (a sit-in with fast) is undertaken as Catholic leaders in Bhubaneshwar demand a nation-wide investigation into the violence carried out by Hindu radicals. “Wounds are still deep and scars still present,” Bishop Barwa said, and “the process of complete healing will begin when justice is done.”
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – The Global Council of India Christians (CGIC) has organised a day of fasting for today in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, to get the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to start a probe into the role played by three people in the Kandhamal massacres. The suspects are Indrash Kumar, Swami Asimanand and Colonel Shrikant Purohi. The CGIC wants the same investigation extended to other states, including the social and economic boycott imposed on the Christians by the Hindu right.

The NIA is an anti-terror agency set up following the 26 November 2008 attacks. Currently, it is investigating a number of acts linked to Hindu radicals.

According to the GCIC President Sajan K. George, Hindutva extremists played a key role in anti-Christian pogroms in August 2008 in Kandhamal, Orissa, and in Karnataka.

Pragya Singh Thakur, who was arrested for planning anti-Muslim attacks in 2008, confessed to the NIA that Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit had "masterminded" the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka.

Thakur's statement to the NIA came soon after a Directorate of Military Intelligence report said that Purohit had confessed to killing at least two Christians in Kandhamal and playing a role in violence in Karnataka and other states.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Indresh Kumar took part in the funeral procession of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, whose murder ostensibly sparked communal violence in Kandhamal district. Thakur said the procession was designed to set off the attacks.

The RSS has denied any involvement in terrorism. On 12 March, RSS national executive committee member Ram Madhav described Kumar’s allegations as “a concerted political campaign."

The Survivors Association of Kandhamal (SAK) had already approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram, demanding the National Investigation Agency (NIA) look into the riots.

Likewise, the All India Christian Council had sent a memorandum to national and local authorities demanding a similar inquiry.

The day of fasting (dharma) was launched for today in order to back such requests.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the new Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Mgr John Barwa, said he was “pained” by the continuous sufferings of his people. “The aftermath of the wave of communal violence against my people is as horrible and more dangerous. It is deeply painful that justice is not being done to our people and the wounds are still deep and scars still present.”

In fact, “The process of complete healing will begin when justice is done. Peace is a fruit of justice and while we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord who alone brings light and hope to our days in this vale of tears, we pray and petition for justice to be served to our people.”

“This is also important not only for my people but for the secular credentials of our beloved motherland, where religious freedom and tolerance and peaceful coexistence with people of other faiths has been our rich heritage.”

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