07/28/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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The cold-blooded killing of a Christian “Maoist” couple brings back fears of pogrom in Kandhamal

by Nirmala Carvalho
The bodies have not been found. Bloodstains and pieces of clothing were found at the site where they were last seen. Two members of the country’s largest paramilitary group are suspected. The victims come from the same village as seven Christians sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, which sparked the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A Christian couple from the village of Pangalipdar, in Kandhamal (Odisha), has been missing for three days, probably killed by members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the country’s largest paramilitary force.

Local media reported the fact as an encounter with Maoist guerrillas that ended with the killing of some militants. "This is absolutely false,” Fr Ajaya Kumar Singh, director of the Odisha Forum for Social Action (OROSA), told AsiaNews. “They were not Maoists, but ordinary Christians, killed in cold blood."

The community filed a murder report, demanding that the bodies be returned to the couple’s two daughters. The two victims are Dhubaleswar, a Christian leader who was very well liked in the area, and his wife.

Around four in the afternoon on Sunday, after the prayer service, the pair set out with three people to a local hilltop to call their children who work in Kerala.

After they finished their call, the others - Sukant Challanset, his wife and jibed Challanset – went home, leaving Dhubaleswar and his wife. On the way back, the three met two CRPF officers.

The later pointed their guns at them and asked what they were doing. The trio was let go after they explained that they had just made some calls and that two friends were still on the hilltop.

About half an hour later, the three heard gunfire coming from the hill. About 20 villagers were ready to go and check out what had happened, but fear of the CRPF held them back.

This morning, after Dhubaleswar and his wife were not found at their home, villagers went to look for them. They found bloodstains, a man's vest and two pairs of slippers at the place where the missing couple were last seen.

"This is a predominantly Christian village,” Fr Singh told AsiaNews. “After the violence of 2008, young people migrated to other states in search of work. Often people have to go to the top of the hill to get a signal and call the world. Dhubaleswar and his wife were ordinary Christians, not Maoist militants".

The seven innocent Christians sentenced to life in connection with the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008 are from the same village.

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