07/23/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: Maoist couple surrenders because of their involvement in swami’s murder

by Nirmala Carvalho
Husband and wife surrender to police in Rayagada district. They admit being involved in the assassination of the Hindu leader, an event that set off an anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa. GCIC president deplores the fact “that in the region the reign of terror continues.”
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Eleven months after the murder of Swami Laxamananda Swaraswati (23 August 2008) and the start of the anti-Christian pogrom a young couple, Surendra Brekedda, 20, and his wife Jaya Ruppy, 19, both members of the Communist Party of India-Maoist, surrendered to police in the southern district of Rayagada.

According to District Superintendent of Police Ashish Kumar Singh, the young man confessed that “he was involved in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda” and that he hoped that his surrender will encourage more people to do the same.

On 9 June another Maoist couple Ghasiram Majhi, alias Akash, and his wife, surrendered to police in Rayagada. Akash is the second highest official in the Maoist organisation in Orissa after leader Sabyasachi Panda.

Back on 21 April police had arrested 40-year-old P Rama Rao, alias Uday, commander of the Bansadhra division, who during his interrogation acknowledged that he was involved in the swami’s death.

Because of this murder Hindu fundamentalists went on a rampage against Christians, blaming them for the death of their leader. Murders, rapes and other forms of violence were inflicted on the Christian community.

In reality Maoists had warned the swami to stop “spreading social unrest” and raising “tensions” in the district. Because “he did not heed the warning” he was killed.

In fact as early as October 2008 Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda had claimed responsibility for the death of the Hindu extremist.

Still, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews that “the reign of terror, after 11 months, continues in the region with former rioters issuing death threats against witnesses.

“The reality in Kandhamal shows that a segment of society tried to promote political divisions at the expense of harmony and peaceful coexistence in Orissa,” the Christian activist said.

The GCIC president and other human rights organisations are urging Hindu fundamentalist leaders to stop spreading “false accusations” against Christians about their involvement in the swami’s death.

“Christians are a microscopic minority. They believe in peace and development for the good of the whole community,” he said.

“Out of 750 cases filed in various police stations in Kandhamal and Gajapati, only one ended in sentencing. Now extremists are threatening to kill the witnesses.”

This is why the GCIC is launching an appeal to all groups in society to “give peace a chance” and transform “Orissa in a prosperous state, where no one goes hungry.”

Between August 2008 and February of this year anti-Christian violence caused the destruction of 315 villages, 4,640 houses, 252 churches and 13 schools. An estimated 120 people have been killed, but according to some government sources as many 500 people might have died, including religious.

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