04/10/2014, 00.00
INDIA
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Archbishop of Orissa: Today's vote "worries Christians. But we believe in democracy"

by Nirmala Carvalho
In 2008, the area was hit by violent anti-Christian pogroms carried out by radical Hindus. Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack -Bhubaneshwar, tells AsiaNews: "We hope that the new government will give justice to the victims of the carnage". Today sees the third phase of the general elections, one of the most important.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Christians in Kandhamal are concerned about who will win this election, but they believe in democracy and the power of the vote", Msgr. John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack -Bhubaneshwar, Kandhamal district (Orissa) tells AsiaNews. Today, more than 13 million people will go to vote in 10 districts of Orissa, in the third stage - nine in total - of the 2014general elections.

Today's round of voting is considered crucial because it affects 91 constituencies spread out among 14 states. Among them, some of the country's most important Uttar Pradesh , Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa and Delhi, the capital. Uttar Pradesh has the greatest number of members in the Lok Sabha ("House of the People"), the lower house of parliament. The Lok Sabha can have a maximum of 552 members; of these, 530 represent the population of the States, 20 the population of the Territories of the Union, 2 may be appointed by the President of the country on behalf of the Anglo-Indian community. Each elected member represents a single geographic constituency.

For 11 years (1998-2009) Orissa was ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in alliance with Biju Janata Dal (BJD). It was under this leadership, that the most violent anti-Christian pogroms ever to take place in India occurred in 2008, at the hands of Hindu fundamentalist groups close to the BJP.

"This community - Msgr. Barwa tells AsiaNews - want a peaceful life, a life of equality and harmonious coexistence, without anyone disturbing their daily life, work, or religious practice". For this reason, "we hope that the new government to give justice to the victims of the carnage of 2008. Justice is the right of every individual. For the betterment of the state and peoples and for the progress and development of all peoples, where all people enjoy the same rights and privileges and freedom and dignity irrespective of majority or minority community or Faith".

Montfort Brother  KJ Markose who is also a lawyer told AsiaNews: "The BJP will not get any seat in Kandhamal, because the Christian communities appear to tactfully vote".

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC ), reveals AsiaNews that "GCIC prays that the administration will ensure the safety  and protection of the Kandhamal people as they go to cast their ballots today.  GCIC prays for an election candidate who upholds the Constitution of India and Promises to ensure religious freedom for the vulnerable minority Christian community, our Kandhamal Christian has suffered  inhuman violence, and the elected representative should ensure and guarantee that this carnage is never repeated again".

GCIC is seriously concerned about Gender Violence especially for our vulnerable Christian Dalit and Tribal women of our community.  Christians have been particular targets. In the 2007-2008 attacks, women and girls were targeted for sexual violence, humiliation, brutal physical assaults and threats.

 

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