08/16/2017, 11.30
INDIA
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Indian Associations: On 25 August we remember the Christian victims of Kandhamal

by Purushottam Nayak

The National Solidarity Forum includes over 70 organizations and was born following the 2008 pogroms against Christians. "Kandhamal Day" not to forget the victims and give them justice. "Your solidarity will inspire those still struggling." The Forum's demands.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The National Solidarity Forum invites all Indians to observe the "Kandhamal Day", a platform for Indian civil society born in the aftermath of the violent pogrom against Christians of 2008. The event will take place next August 25, not to forget the massacres carried out by Hindu extremists against Christians. Their press release states: “70 years of freedom have passed. It is time for us to reflect on what it meant people of India – Dalits, Adivasis, minorities and other marginalised sections. Do we really have the moral strength to face another Kandhamal massacre in India? If not, it is too important that we remember and observe Kandhamal Day on August 25, 2017 and support the demands of the victims and survivors struggling for justice in Kandhamal”,

In 2008, approximately ten days after the Independence Day [which is celebrated in India on August 15], the country witnessed the worst sectarian violence against Christians in Kandhamal, Orissa. Ithe NGO statement reads: "This is ninth year of Kandhamal Anniversary of the anti-Christian violence. We observe Kandhamal Day on August 25th to bring about communal harmony, peace and justice in the country. Over 395 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. More than 56,000 people have been displaced. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism by the Sangh Parivar have been reported. This organized communal attack which was the biggest in the history of Christian community during the last three centuries, also spread to different parts of Odisha and other states as well. The compensation provided by the Government for the victims and survivors of Kandhamal has been minimal."

 

During the Kandhamal attacks, there were more than 3,300 complaints, but only 820 were reported as actual complaints. The rest of the complaints were not even registered. Among these complaints, only 518 cases were charge sheeted. The remaining cases were treated as false reports. And out of these 518 cases, 247 cases disposed off. The rest of the cases are pending before the sessions and magistrate’s courts. And among those cases which have been disposed off, many are already acquitted. According to study conducted by Supreme Court Adv Vrinda Grover and Law Prof Saumya Uma, it is reported that the conviction rate is as low as 5.13% of the charge sheeted cases. If you take complaints as a yardstick of justice process, it is just around 1% only.

 

None of the criminals responsible for destruction are in jail today. The murderers, rapists, looters and destroyers are today running scot free. However, seven innocent persons are in jail today with fabricated cases. It is too important that a free India wakes up in support of the demand for punishing the guilty and to free the innocents.

 

On August 26, 2017, over 10,000 people will gather in on a rally and public meeting starting from 10.00 am to 4.00 PM at G. Udayagiri in Kandhamal District. Nationally known people will address the gathering. The eminent speakers also include Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize (popularly known as Green Nobel Prize), Eminent Academician, Prof. Bijay Bahidar, poet Amiya Pandav, Nakul Nayak, the former MP from Kandhamal who raised his voice for Kandhamal survivors during and post Kandhamal violence. The demand of the victims and survivors are the following:

1. Implementation of Supreme Court verdict of August 2nd, 2016

2. Enhance up to 15 lakh for the death compensation in line of Muzzaffanagar violence cases. Enlisted the dead those who are not listed in death list for compensation and for criminal justice delivery system

3. Reopen of 315 closed/acquitted cases of violence.

4. Book for both state and non-state actors perpetrators involved in the communal violence; institute special inquiry into the district and police administration, who are in nexus with the communal forces

5. Announce special package for repair and reconstruction of houses as recommended in a study by former UN Special Reporter, Miloon Kothari up to 5 lakh and compensate those who lost their businesses. Enlist those who are not missed out by acts of commissions and omissions for swift compensation packages.

6. Immediately establish Odisha Minority Commission

7. Facilitate Minority schemes and scholarship in time bound manner and hold the officials responsible for any lapses and delays in implementations.

8. Ensure minority community presence in important administrative machinery to ward off biased decision as well as for harmonious and participatory decision processes.

9. Scrap Odisha anti-conversion law and Presidential Order 1950 para 3 to make religion neutral and delink it from affirmative action

10. Constitute Citizens and community interface with the administration for effectively combating the communal forces

The National Solidarity Forum concludes with an appeal to all to observe Kandhamal Day on August 25 and support the victims and survivors of Kandhamal. “Your solidarity actions will be an inspiration for those who are struggling for justice. It would also be a strong step to protect the Indian Constitution to strengthen peace, justice and harmony in this free India”.

 

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