One of seven Christians jailed for Orissa pogroms is released. Archbishop Barwa: God be praised
The Supreme Court established the release on bail of Gornath Chalanseth. He re-embraced his family after more than 10 years of detention. His first thought went to the other six Christians imprisoned with the false accusation of killing a Hindu guru. Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar: "The firm Christian faith is translated into vocations".
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Supreme Court of India has freed Gornath Chalanseth, one of the seven Christians imprisoned in 2008 on the charge of murdering the Hindu swami Laxamananda Saraswati.
It was this murder, claimed by Maoist guerrillas but attributed by Hindu fundamentalists to Christians, that triggered the sectarian violence known as "Orissa pogrom". Speaking to AsiaNews Msgr. John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, rejoices: "God be praised. Our joy is immense. We knew that sooner or later it would happen, that one day we would win. This was our faith. "
Gornath was released yesterday and was finally able to embrace loved ones. "I have no words to describe my joy," he said in front of those who had gathered in the village to welcome him after so many years in prison. His release on bail was decided by the Supreme Court on May 9, after an appeal presented by the lawyers of ADF India (Alliance Defending Freedom), an association that deals with the defense of persecuted Christians.
Gornath remembered the other six prisoners languishing in prison since 2008 with a life sentence imposed in 2013. They are: Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Sanatan Badamajhi and Munda Badamajhi (with mental disabilities). He said: "I am happy to have my freedom again, but there are other innocent people in prison."
The Church of Orissa has always claimed the innocence of the condemned and dennounced the sham trials against them. According to AC Michael, a New Delhi activist and director of development at ADF India, Garanath's release is a good thing, "but there is still a long way to go. Six people languish behind bars. We must be able to release them on bail and then get the acquittal for unjust detention. We thank all those who supported us ”.
In August 2008 in Orissa the Hindu radicals carried out the most ferocious persecution against Christians in India. At the end of the pogroms the toll was severe: 120 deaths; almost 56 thousand faithful forced to flee; 8 thousand homes burned or looted in 415 villages; 300 churches demolished; 40 raped women (including Sr. Meena Barwa, niece of the archbishop); 12,000 displaced children and forced to interrupt their studies.
Archbishop Barwa points out that the "terrible violence has not affected the faith of the Christian community. In Kandhamal the faithful are joyful: they are proud to be Catholics and Christians. We believe that in the face of difficulties the only thing we can do is trust in God, entrust ourselves to Him. We trust in the fact that God is with us, does not abandon us, and helps us to overcome difficulties". The firm Christian faith, he adds, "translates into religious vocations. Today I am in a village to celebrate the ordination of two priests. You have no idea of the joy of the community gathered here! There are at least 3 thousand people and they all feel blessed by God, they feel the blessing of the Lord on them and pray for the faith to become even stronger ”.
"I am convinced - says the Archbishop - that sooner or later even the six Christians in prison will be released. The truth will be restored ”. The Indian Church has begun the beatification process for slain Christians, recognizing them as "martyrs of the faith".