04/12/2012, 00.00
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Christian leader, happy for Bosusco's release but govt now must think about Tribals

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, laments the daily discrimination experienced by Tribals and Christians in Orissa and the authorities' indifference. Out of more than 3,300 complaints made by the victims of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, only 831 were formally filed.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Protestant leader Sajan K George "welcomes" Paolo Bosusco's release. However, whilst he is also waiting for the release of tribal lawmaker Jhina Hikaka, he says that we cannot forget "the Orissa government's unfair treatment of tribal peoples, the same it reserves for Christians." According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) in fact, out of 3,300 complaints made by the victims of anti-Christian pogroms in 2008 at local police stations, only 831 formally ended with a First Information Report (FIR).

"Kandhamal has been in the glare of the international media since the December 2007 and August 2008 large scale anti-Christian violence. Even today, peace and normalcy have yet to return to the district," George said. "Kandhamal Christians continue to suffer humiliations and discrimination. In certain pockets of the district, they even endure social boycott."

In March 2012, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom placed India on its 'Watch List' of countries with severe violations of religious freedom, primarily due to lack of progress in achieving justice for victims of past large-scale incidents of communal violence.

The independent federal agency called on the United States to urge the Indian government to strengthen the ability of state and central police to provide effective means to prohibit and punish cases of religious violence to the fullest extent of the law whilst protecting victims and witnesses.

"Maoists are not the first political group to complain that the tribal people have had a raw deal from the Indian state," the GCIC president said. "Mainstream political parties and governments run by them have long treated tribal people simply as vote banks. The grinding poverty and social backwardness in which most tribal people live are often taken for granted."

"So many innocent Tribals and other poor people are in prison, branded as Maoists, without lawyers available to them. Even friends do not visit them due to fear that they too would be jailed. The poor are terrorised from all sides." (NC)


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See also
Orissa: unfulfilled deals between government and Maoists behind abductions
Orissa: Paolo Bosusco released
Orissa: government and Maoists resume talks for Paolo Bosusco's release
Orissa, 50 Maoists kidnap an Indian Parliamentary
Orissa: killing Christians to stop Tribals and Dalits from developing and achieving dignity


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