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    » 07/29/2011, 00.00

    INDIA

    Hindu radical kills Christian who had testified in court in a Kandhamal pogrom-related case

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Michael Digal testified in court in a case connected with the 2008 anti-Christian violence. After purging his sentence, a fundamentalist enticed the victim into a trap and killed him. The Global Council of India Christians calls on the authorities to protect pogrom witnesses.
    Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Michael Digal was killed for revenge. The Christian leader and activist testified against Hindu radicals after the Kandhamal pogroms, this according to investigators who are probing his death. Initially, state police had ruled his death accidental before the autopsy report was completed. The decomposing body of the 43-year-old man was found on Wednesday near Baliguda Block, Kandhamal District (Orissa), three days after he went missing, near Mdikia (see “Christian leaded found dead in Kandhamal, Sajan George accuses Hindu radicals,” in AsiaNews, 28 July 2011). It was later moved to the government hospital in Baliguda, where a post-mortem was conducted yesterday.

    According to his relatives, Michael was called from home on a pretext three days before his body was found, and was not seen alive after that. The investigation, conducted with the help of a team from the Global Council of India Christians (GCIC), describes a different scenario than an accident.

    Michael Digal, a Christian leader in the Bataguda area, had testified in court in a case related to the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal District. The man charged with the offence was convicted and sentenced. Once out of prison, he slowly befriended Michael. Last Sunday, this “friend” asked Michael to accompany him in bicycle from Baliguda to Bataguda. Once in the forest, far from prying eyes, the false friend stabbed Michael to death.

    “Michael Digal testified in court about a case related to communal violence against Christians. He was brutally murdered by a radical in Mdikia, Baliguda block. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) calls on the chief justice of Orissa and the high court to instruct the Orissa government to extent witness protection to the Christians who testified against people involved in communal violence in Kandhamal. The GCIC also urges the state government to monitor the activities of Manoj Pradhan and his coteries in Kandhamal,” GCIC president Sajan K George told AsiaNews.

    Manoj Pradhan is an Orissa politician involved in two murder cases in connection with the Kandhamal pogrom. Thirty-eight people were killed during the violence and 25,000 tribal Christians were forced to flee their homes (see “Orissa: violence and destruction against Christians accused of killing radical Hindu leader,” in AsiaNews, 25 August 2008).
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    See also

    01/07/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: first conviction in anti-Christian riots case
    Nine months after the first attacks in Kandhamal district, a court issues a first conviction for one of the people who instigated the violence. Father Chellan, who was among the victims of Hindu fanaticism, wants the authorities to provide witnesses with full protection because they are still under constant threat.

    02/09/2010 INDIA
    Christian leaders: Orissa government still ignores pogrom victims
    Archbishop Cheenath and the president of Orissa Minority Forum demand sentences for perpetrators, compensation for the victims and peace initiatives. The movement creates a youth wing to address community needs. To date there are still 3500 houses to rebuild.

    18/12/2008 INDIA
    Orissa: catechist attacked by Hindu fundamentalists found dead
    Yuvraj Digal, 40, was brutally beaten by a mob of about 20 people, after which he vanished raising fears that he might have been abducted. Today his death was confirmed when his body was found.

    13/11/2008 INDIA
    Indian commission investigating anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa
    A seven-member team begins inquiry in areas where Hindus massacred Christians. They will meet victims, police officials and local administrators. It is still not known whether Sister Meena will take part in the line-up to identify her assailants.

    06/11/2008 INDIA
    Curfew imposed again in Orissa after Hindu activist is killed
    The dead man led anti-Christian attacks in December 2007 in Kandhamal district. Maoist groups are suspected in his death but Christians fear a new wave of violence.



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