02/04/2009, 00.00
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AsiaNews correspondent in India receives international award

Nirmala Carvalho has been chosen for her articles on the attacks against Christians in Orissa, and on violence against women. The prize has also been awarded to the widow of Hemant Karkare, head of the anti-terrorism squad in Maharashtra who was killed in the November attacks in Mumbai.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Nirmala Carvalho (on the left in the photo), an AsiaNews correspondent in India, has been awarded the Staines International Award For Religious Harmony, named after Graham Stewart Staines, an Australian Christian missionary burned alive in Orissa in January of 1999.

The Indian journalist has been awarded the prize because she "has created awareness of human rights violations against women and other minority groups in India and throughout the world by her writings and fearless reporting over the past four and a half years as a correspondent with the Italian based news agency AsiaNews."

The promoters stress that in her articles, Carvalho "has brought to light the insufficiency of the response from the government of Orissa and the police authorities . . . able to paint the true picture of the intensity of attacks against the already poor Christians in Orissa. Yet, in the face of these grave violations and injustice, Mrs. Carvalho has continuously written of the message of forgiveness, love and hope."

In addition to Nirmala Carvalho, the prize has been given to Kavitha Karkare, head of the anti-terrorism squad in Maharashtra who was killed during the November 28 attacks in Mumbai. The organizers of the Staines International Award gave the prize to the widow of Hemant Karkare because of her message of forgiveness for the terrorists responsible for the killing of her husband and her witness of "ahimsa," a term indicating the rejection of all forms of violence.

The Staines International Award For Religious Harmony was instituted in 2000 at the initiative of the International Council of Evangelical Churches, in collaboration with the Global Council of Indian Christians. Previous editions of the prize have been awarded to, among others, archbishop of New Delhi Allen de Lastic, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, and to John Dayal, a journalist and a representative of the United Christians Forum for Human Rights in India.

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