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NGO holds hearing on Orissa’s anti-Christian violence

Sunday, August 22, 2010 11:00:07 PM, IANS

NGO to hold hearing on anti-Christian violence in Orissa

Forty-three heinous cases related to the 2008 violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal district will be heard here in a three-day session of a tribunal, comprising retired judges and social activists, starting Sunday.  »

BJP wants to shed communal image, eyes Christian votes in Goa

New Delhi: A tribunal comprising retired judges and social activists Sunday began a three-day session for hearing 43 cases related to the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal district.

The sitting of the National People’s Tribunal (NPT) commenced with over 400 supporters, including 95 survivors of the violence, a statement said.

The NPT includes 15-member jury with expertise in the fields of law, media, culture, housing and administration.

The jury is expected to issue a set of recommendations.

The tribunal’s hearing will conclude Aug 24. It is being organised by the National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of over 65 organisations, the statement said.

Lyricist Javed Akhtar, supporting the meet, said that it was shameful that incidents such as the Kandhamal carnage against religious minorities continue to happen with alarming frequency in India.

“As citizens of this democracy, we should hang our heads in shame,” he said.

The survivors shared their tales of horror and the abject failure of the state machinery to protect them.

Kanakalata Nayak, whose husband was killed by goons allegedly from the Bajrang Dal led by local politicians, said: “Despite filing a case with the police and deposing before the court the criminals were immediately given bail and now continue to roam free, often intimidating me.”

Father Ajay Kumar Singh from Kandhamal, himself a victim of the violence, provided a historical view on the emergence of right wing forces in Orissa while Archbishop of Cuttack Raphael Cheenath spoke about how people’s constitutional right to freedom of religion was violated in Kandhamal.

Dalits and tribals from Kandhamal also gave details of the killings and rapes and the destruction of churches and other properties.

The jury members including former chief justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah. During the depositions, he raised several questions in order to understand the response of the police and the judiciary of Orissa while dealing with the violence cases.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

At least 26 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians fled their villages after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held the Christian community there responsible for Saraswati’s killing, although police blamed the Maoists.


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