08/03/2016, 12.19
INDIA
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Supreme Court: More compensation to Christian victims of Kandhamal

by Nirmala Carvalho

The supreme court ruled that the payment granted previously is inadequate. In 2011 the local government of Kandhamal has allocated 273 thousand euro for reconstruction. It is not yet established the extent of reparation. Catholic activist: "It is important that the judges are concerned."

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Supreme Court of India has ordered the Orissa government to give higher compensation to the Christian victims of violence unleashed by Hindu radicals in 2008. The nation's highest judicial body directed by the President TS Thakur, in collaboration with the judge Uday Umesh Lalit, ruled that the compensation awarded to the victims in 2011 is inadequate and ordered the state authorities to pay an additional sum of money.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh, a prominent activist, says: "We do not know the amount of compensation but it is important that the Supreme Court has intervened on the issue”.

The judges issued the ruling yesterday, after considering a petition filed by Msgr. Raphael Cheenath, archbishop emeritus of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. The prelate brought an action against the government decision of 2011, with which the government of Kandhamal district has allocated 273 thousand euro to rebuild the thousands of homes destroyed by Hindu extremists during the anti-Christian pogroms.

On 23 August 2008, a Maoist group killed Hindu leader Saraswati Laxanananda in his ashram, in Kandhamal District, a fact the group readily admitted. However, the followers of the radical Hindu cleric blamed Christians, whom he had criticised for a long time because of their social involvement with tribals and Dalits (outcaste) and had accused - along with bishops, priests and nuns - of proselytising.

In Kandhamal, Hindu extremists unleashed the most violent persecution against the Christian minority that India had ever seen. Overall, the pogrom forced 55,000 Christians to flee, with 5,600 houses and 415 villages raided and set on fire. According to government figures, 38 people were killed and two women raped. Scores of people were injured and permanently maimed. The Church and social activists reported instead the destruction of almost 300 churches, plus convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities. At least 91 people died, 38 immediately, 41 from injuries sustained in the violence, and 12 in police action.

Fr. Singh is overjoyed by the decision of the Supreme Court judges and declares: "It also highlights and recognizes that the previously determined compensation was unfair. Now we hope to be allocated some concrete form of reparation".

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