12/29/2010, 00.00
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Christians right of return in Orissa under threat

by Santosh Digal
In Kandhamal district, where Hindu radicals are strong and aggressive, a government official is opposed to allowing five Christian families, victims of pogroms, rebuild their destroyed homes. A missionary: "We will take their case to court if the opposition continues." Nine Hindu guilty of burning Christian homes sentenced to five years in prison.

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - In Orissa Christmas was celebrated quietly, but not without worries: it new cases of injustice and abuse against Christians in Kandhamal, one of the areas where radical Hindus are more aggressive, were registered. For many Christian victims of violence, there are difficulties in returning to their places of origin. The latest case is that of a local government official for development and construction, L. Mahanty, who mistreats and opposes five Christian families’  reconstruction of their homes, destroyed during the anti-Christian pogrom. Four families belong to the village of Beladadi Koenijhar (Tikabali Block). On December 25 the official visited the village of Beladadi, ostensibly to examine the state of tranquility and security for Christians. But he insulted the five families, because they rebuilt their homes near the ruins of the destroyed houses. He shouted at them, "I will kick you out from here; the Hindus will cut you to pieces and throw you out and then you will know. Who told you to build your houses here ?" People have explained that it was he himself who had brought them there from the refugee camps, and had settled them in the village, there was no other alternative land destined for them, and they had lived there for two generations. One of the families were given compensation for damages, but a partial compensation, and thus was not able to build a house if not on the site of the former. The official, however, continued to shout, telling them to leave immediately, adding more insults, and then went away

Father K.J. Markos, a Monfort missionary who helps Christians in Kandhamal, led one of the villagers on December 26 to Bodimunda village, where the official was visiting on other matters, and tried to argue with him. But the official went on to say that the villagers had to go away, and that the houses under construction had to be demolished and razed to the ground. Following this Fr. Markos asked L. Mahanty to write down his opposition to allowing the homes of Christians be rebuilt in this place, but the official refused. "If Mahanty opposes the reconstruction of houses by the Christians of the village, we will bring the matter to court," said Fr Markos AsiaNews.

Meanwhile, a court in the state of Orissa, Kandhamal, sentenced nine Hindu radicals for burning the homes of Christians in the village of Damangpadar. The sentence is five years of enforced labour in prison and a fine of five thousand rupees. Among the prisoners there is a teacher in a government school and a leader of Hindu fundamentalists.


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