Orissa, 3,000 people at anniversary of Kandhamal pogrom against Christians
The celebrations took place on August 26 at G. Udayagiri. The violence of 2008 "the largest and best-planned attack on Christians". "Shameful that even today the victims have not got justice." "The struggle for justice in Kandhamal has become a struggle for justice throughout the nation."
G. Udayagiri (AsiaNews) - More than 3,000 people attended the ninth anniversary of Kandhamal pogroms to recall the suffering of Christians in 2008, targeted by Hindu radicals for their faith. The commemoration took place on August 26th at G. Udayagiri, a district city. Participants marched in procession and submitted a memorandum to the government. Sarada Singh, an activist, comments to AsiaNews: "In over 300 years, the Kandhamal violence was the largest and best-planned attack on Christians in terms of scope, nature and cause of damage and loss of lives. It was not a simple case of sectarian violence, but an attack on Christians. "
In 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
Singh adds that "if it was a sectarian violence between two parties, some political movement would have been involved. But that was not the case. We must work for the justice of those who havesuffered. If we let ourselves be overwhelmed by fear, we are cowards. We continue to fight for justice! "
Ramkrushna Panda, another activist who attended the ceremony, reports that "the event wanted to push forward to get justice for the innocent victims of Kandhamal who have suffered a lot. Groups of selfish people tied to Hindu nationalist organizations sparked a cauldron of violence only for personal gain. Today, the fate of India is led to an anti-social, anti-democratic scenario, against the poor and human dignity. " "We must continue - emphasizes Panda - to uphold the ideals of equality and dignity of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar [of dalit originS, considered the father of the Indian nation - ndr], with the same [goals] of common good, prosperity and secularism. "
Amiya Pandab, a journalist, states: "It is shameful that even today the victims have not seen justice done." Jacob Pradhan, a Christian and a member of the Orissa State Assembly, states: "Kandhamal's attack was planned by a Hindu fundamentalist group that has ties to political parties. The Constitution has established the right to profess religion for us freely. " Then he appealed: "We struggle for our fundamental rights and justice. Our battle must go on. "
Finally, Dr. Gudly, who travelled from Chhattisgarh, comments: "The struggle for justice in Kandhamal has become a struggle for justice throughout the nation. The effect of the aftermath of the Gujarat massacre in 2002 was brought to other states. And now the Kandhamal fight has inspired other states."