Bishop Barwa: Kandhamal Day in memory of the suffering of Christians
by Nirmala Carvalho

Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of pogroms against Orissa's Christians. In Kandhamal more than 10,000 people of every faith will join together to "show solidarity and love" to the victims. Archbishop: "We want the application of the Supreme Court ruling granting more compensation."

Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - "My prayer is that Kandhamal Day is remembered as a people’s movement and that the struggle, the suffering of our people - the lost, the last and the least – are witnesses of the faith  for everyone".  This is the wish of Msgr. John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, on the eve of the day that commemorates the massacre of Christians in Orissa. Tomorrow, the Archbishop continues, "will be the ninth anniversary of the violence", carried out by Hindu radicals in August 2008. For the occasion more than 10,000 people will gather in Kandhamal, the district most affected by the murderous fury of nationalists, in solidarity with the victims. People of every faith will join together to [show] solidarity and love. "

On August 25, the Indian Church recalls the fierce pogroms triggered by Hindu nationalist and Hindu militant groups. 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.

At tomorrow's meeting, Mgr. Barwa will not be present, but emphasizes that "I will accompany my people in prayer and in spirit. Not only will we pray for the sacrifice of the people of Kandhamal, but will support the request of the victims and survivors, who strive for justice. " "We also want - continues the Archbishop - to implement the Supreme Court judgment of 2 August 2016." In that statement, the judges of the Supreme Court of India "have ordered the immediate reopening of cases where the absolutions are not justified by the facts, defined compensation granted as insignificant and established compensation for destroyed houses and mourning families. Judges have ordered higher payments for damages and injuries due to violence. "