03/13/2012, 00.00
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Orissa: second Christian killed since the start of the year

Suryakant Nayak, an Anglican, was going home after doing some errands. Police found his body in a well with evident signs of a struggle. In early March, 15 Hindus cut the throat of Goresa Mallick, a Catholic, for witchcraft. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, the high rate of acquittals in connection with the 2008 pogrom has encouraged Hindus to harass the Christian community.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Six Christians have been killed by Hindu ultranationalists or unknown attackers in Orissa in the last 14th months. The latest are Suryakant Nayak, an Anglican from Bakingia village (Kandhamal), and Goresa Mallick, a Catholic from Salimagocha village (Ganjam), who were murdered on 6 and 3 March respectively. "What is scary is the fact that the government is not concerned about the occasional killing of Christians in Orissa, and that the police is conducting its investigation slowly and carelessly," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

The latest murders were particularly gruesome. Suryakant Nayak went missing on 2 March. After withdrawing some money in Raika, he carried out some errands with his mother and three daughters and then went home. Not far from home, he stopped for a drink whilst his mother and daughter went on their way.

Eyewitnesses say they later saw him lying on the ground, drunk. His body was found in a well four days later not far from Raikia, showing bruises. Both his hands and wrists were broken. The mouth and lips were swollen and some of his teeth were missing. All these are telltale signs of a fight. Nevertheless, the police has not filed a case of murder yet.

On 3 March, Goresa Mallick, 50, met a group of 15 Hindus from a neighbouring village. After drinking something, he was attacked by the men, who cut his throat and then proceeded to burn his body in the woods. The next day, the family found his remains.

Police arrested the alleged murderers who justified the killing by accusing the victim of "witchcraft". Goresa Mallick had converted to Catholicism five months earlier.

According to Sajan George, "the high rate of acquittals and the low rate of conviction in connection with the 2008 pogrom have encouraged rightwing Hindu nationalists. They feel they have total immunity from the authorities and can thus threaten and intimidate the Christian minority with impunity."

What is more, "in Kandhamal District, the failure to bring Hindu extremists to justice" is compounded by the fact that "Christians are ostracised." (NC)


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