07/08/2009, 00.00
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Orissa: government looking for causes of anti-Christian violence, not the culprits

by Nirmala Carvalho
An interim report on the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal is released. Land disputes, conversions and reconversions and fake ID papers are the causes, this according to the commission of inquiry. For the bishop of Bhubaneshwar, “We do not need an inquiry to better know the truth but the political will to up hold the constitution of India and the law.”

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – The interim report on the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal is having many people scratch their heads. Set up by Orissa’s State government, the one-man panel of Justice S C Mohapatra issued a report that blamed the violence in the district on disputes over land, conversions and re-conversions and fake identity papers. But for many Christians the interim report does nothing more than confirm what Justice Mohapatra had already alleged before he began his inquiry.

For Fr Mrutyunjay Digal, treasurer of the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese in Orissa, the 28-page paper was designed to “give a clean chit” to Hindu radical groups that orchestrated the violence.

For the judge 90 people died and more than 50,000 were made refugees, their homes and churches set on fire, because Tribals felt that “Pana Dalits” (Dalit converts to Christianity) were getting land unlawfully by using fake IDs that described them as Dalits when in fact their conversion excluded them from quotas meant for Dalits.

It “will take at least two years to complete inquiry,” said Justice Mohapatra said who in the report did not blame anyone for the violence.

Faced with such a document the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, Mgr Rapheel Cheenath, told AsiaNews that “the judge is free to do what he thinks is best but we have the right to wonder why he chose to release an interim report, which was not part of his original mandate, and how he will use the two years he mentioned.”

“Even though the Church was the victim, I was never called to testify, and when I was appointed bishop I was never consulted again,” Archbishop Cheenath said.

Neither he nor the Christian community were consulted before the release of the interim report and “this,” Mgr Cheenath lamented, “is like being victimised a second time.”

For the bishop of Bhubaneshwar the investigation could be a “waste of time” and “justify withholding the culprits’ names and not arresting them right away.”

“The people of Orissa know very well who the attackers are; that is no secret,” said the bishop. “We do not need an inquiry to better know the truth [about the violence]; what we need is the political will to uphold the constitution of India and the law.”

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