04/01/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Young Christian man killed in Orissa in what police describe as an “accident”

by Nirmala Carvalho
The young man was hit by a tractor as he walked on the side of the road. Activist slams “targeted killings” disguised as road accidents. Hindu fundamentalist party picks candidate who masterminded anti-Christian pogroms to run in assembly election.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Gunjan Digal, a young 23-year-old Christian man, was killed by a tractor on the side of the road in Gungibadi, a village in Kandhamal district. Police dismissed the case as a simple road accident, but a Christian activist described it as a “targeted murder” against Orissa Christians.

For the police at Saranghar station, the death, which occurred on Monday, was an ordinary road accident, a claim that Sajan K George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, rejects.

“We categorically reject claims that young Gunjan’s death was purely accidental,” he said. “The young man’s faith was well-known in the village, where there are only 21 Christian families,” forced to live in utter poverty, sheltering under plastic tents.

“Last Sunday, after ten months, Mass was finally celebrated, attended by about 50 people,” he said.

Eyewitnesses who were at the site of the accident confirm that it was “premeditated murder.”

Gunjan Digal was walking on the side of the road leaving a wide berth for the tractor to drive buy when the still unknown driver swung the vehicle against the young man, killing him on the spot.

The body is now being in police custody for the autopsy.  

“Christians are victims of abductions and assassinations like that of Hrudananda Nayak, who was killed by Hindu fundamentalists last February,” Sajan K George said. “In most cases the culprits are never punished.” And according to the Christian activist the situation in Orissa is deteriorating.

Manoj Pradhan, one of the people who masterminded recent anti-Christian pogroms, is running for office under the banner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is closely aligned with Hindu fundamentalism, in an upcoming Assembly election in G Udayagiri riding, Kandhamal district.

The Hindu extremist leader is currently in jail and has police has ten files against him, seven of which include charges of murder.

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