06/22/2009, 00.00
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Orissa: death threats against Christian witnesses in murder case against BJP politician

by Nirmala Carvalho
Witnesses are being intimidated in order to force them not to testify against Manoj Pradhan, who has been charged in seven murder cases. In the village of Neelungia, Christians are told to pay 4,000 rupees if they want to get back to their homes, whilst Hindus demand they withdraw accusations against those who carried out the pogrom.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Nine witnesses from the village of Raikia (Kandhamal District) have received death threats. They were going to testify against Manoj Pradhan, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was recently elected to the Orissa State Assembly. He is charged on 14 counts of violence, including seven murders, against Christians.

Human rights activist Ajaya Kumar Singh told AsiaNews that “three people, probably Pradhan supporters or relatives threatened the nine Christians. They told them that if they testified against the BJP politician they would be killed.”

“The situation is still unstable in many areas where there are no Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) agents,” said Sajan, K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

“In the village of Neelungia, near Udayagiri, the predominantly Hindu community has set two conditions to let Christians come back to clear the rubble of their homes. First they want 5,000 rupees (around US$ 100) for the puja or submission ceremony. Secondly, they want Christians to withdraw their complaint (First Information Report) against villagers who took part in the anti-Christian violence.”

Refugee camps in Neelungia village were shut down and Christians now live in tents on the margins of the village.

“The Hindu community is not letting them to go back to their homes,” said Sajan George. “And in spite of complaints about continuous threats by extremists police is doing nothing.”


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