02/26/2016, 12.26
INDIA
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First website for Orissa victims launched

by Santosh Digal

The site was created by a group of activists, lawyers, intellectuals and artists in order to be "an authentic source of information" on the 2008 anti-Christian violence. The Orissa government has appointed two commissions of inquiry, but the results of their work are not being disclosed. As of January 2016, 3,232 complaints submitted, but only 827 registered. The acquittal rate in murder trials is 88.6%.

 

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - A group of activists, legal experts, lawyers, intellectuals, writers and artists have been commissioned to create the first website dedicated to the pogrom against Christians unleashed in 2008 by Hindu radicals in Orissa State.

Father Ajaya Kumar Singh, one of the moderators of the new site, said: "The promoters were frustrated by the snail's pace of the judicial process, which has seen many murderers and arsonists get away with it, while many others have not been arrested."

The new website - accessible at www.kandhamal.net – was launched on February 24. According to its promoters, the site "aims to be an authentic source of information, data and legal documents that can be used by legal support groups and researchers who work with survivors of violence."

The goal of the site is to draw attention on the inability of the administration of Orissa and federal governments to ensure justice and rehabilitation for victims of the most vicious massacre against the Christian community in recent times in India.

On August 23, 2008, a Maoist group killed the Hindu leader Laxamananda Saraswati at his ashram in Kandhamal district. Although the guerrillas admitted their full responsibility, Hindu radicals put the blame on Christians, who had long been criticized by the Guru for their social commitment with Tribal and Dalit (outcaste) and accused - along with Bishops, priests and nuns - of proselytizing.

Hindu radicals of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) unleashed a wave of violence that lasted several weeks and caused the deaths of 101 Christians; many women were gang raped, including Sister Meena Barwa; 8,500 houses and 395 churches were burned; over 56 thousand people have fled.

Fr. Singh reports that Naveen Pattnaik, chief minister of the state, has appointed two commissions of inquiry that have presented their reports at the end of 2015. The documents have not yet been made public. The Commissions of judges Naidu and Panigahi the priest comments ironically, "presented their investigations almost at the same moment”.

The Christian community has boycotted the commission for the prejudices that the two judges have shown in the course of the hearings and the alleged coercion of victims. John Dayal, a prominent activist and Catholic leader, reports: "In reality the coercion of the victims had a major role in most of the criminal cases of murder and arson, which has been proven in the Fast Track courts (special courts) and district courts" .

According to the latest data as of January 2016, 3,232 complaints were lodged; of these, only 827 were registered and the police have collected the data of the defendants in only 512 cases. Out of 30 confirmed incidents of murder, only two sentences were imposed. The conviction rate is 5.13%, that of acquittal is 88.6%; the remaining 6.25% is still at large. To date, no-one charged with murder or rape is behind bars.

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