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    » 07/09/2009, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa spending 4 million rupees to rebuild churches

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Money will go to rehabilitate 196 buildings, churches and places of worship belonging to various Christian denominations in Kandhamal District. The Global Council of Indian Christians wants compensation for victims and protection for witnesses in trials against Hindu extremists.

    Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Almost a year after Christians were victims of a pogrom in Orissa the Union and State government have announced their intention to financially help the victims of the violence and pay for the reconstruction of destroyed churches.

    The Orissa government said that it will spend 4.23 million rupees (US$ 82,000) on churches and other religious buildings. Overall the money will go to 196 buildings, churches and places of worship that belong to various Christian denominations located in Kandhamal District.

    The State’s decision came after months of pressures by Christian groups on Orissa authorities.

    Back in May the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had submitted a report on the victims and the damages caused by the extremists.

    “Now we have to pursue the cases” not included in this compensation package as well as protect “the witnesses who have to testify in the trials against those accused of the violence as well as their families,” said GCIC Chairman Sajan K George.

    Two days ago India’s Union (federal) government joined Orissa in pledging money for reconstruction. Delhi announced its decision to spend 10.5 million rupees (US$ 210,000) to help 35 families who lost a member in the violence of last August.

    As for the number of people killed during the anti-Christian outbreaks, Orissa authorities and Christian groups are still far apart.

    For the state government only a few tens of people were killed. Yet back in November a government official told a delegation from India’s Communist Party-Marxist-Leninist that 500 had been killed and that he had personally seen the cremation of at least 200 bodies.

    In addition in the villages of Kandhamal Christians who filed charges against their attackers are still subject to death threats.

    Sources told AsiaNews that Kantan Nayak has been the object of threats. He is one of the main witnesses in the trial of those accused of raping Sister Meena Barwa (see AsiaNews of 24 October 2008) and has been warned not to testify in the nun’s case unless he wants to die.

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    See also

    29/08/2009 INDIA
    Orissa, acquitted for lack of evidence one of the brains behind anti-Christian pogrom
    Charges of arson against Manoj Pradhan, one of 14 charges against him, are dropped. BJP leader and elected to the legislature of Orissa, he is accused of killing 7 Christians. Activists denounce the inaction of the administration in punishing those responsible for crimes.

    24/02/2010 INDIA
    Orissa, "there is no justice for Christians"
    The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Sajan K George, complains: "No legal aid, no more money, not even a house for victims of religious violence. The government must intervene, before it's too late. "

    08/08/2012 INDIA
    Orissa court reopens Christian murder case dismissed by police
    Michael Nayak was killed in Baliguda (Kandhamal) on 20 July of last year by a group of Hindu extremists. Police had dismissed the case as an ordinary accident. The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians calls on the authorities to investigate other cold cases involving Christian victims of extremists and the 2008 Orissa pogroms.

    12/01/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: insecurity and hatred await Christians forced out of refugee camps
    The government closes down camps, handing out paltry sums to refugees. After being forced to return to their destroyed homes, the latter must live side-by-side with their persecutors. Back home they are refused employment, even day work, whilst store owners refuse to sell them any supplies.

    11/01/2008 INDIA
    Upper castes behind anti-Christian violence in Orissa
    The executive secretary of the Church’s Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes argues that the upper castes are using a religious pretext to advance their political goals, namely keeping the marginalised in ignorance and poverty so as to continue to exploit them.



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