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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Orissa: first conviction in anti-Christian riots case
01/07/2009
Christian leaders: Orissa government still ignores pogrom victims
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Orissa: catechist attacked by Hindu fundamentalists found dead
18/12/2008
Indian commission investigating anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa
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