ASIA/INDIA - Day of the Martyrs of Orissa: Church and civil society seek justice

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 martyrs   persecutions   hinduism   justice   peace   civil society  


Bhubaneswar (Agenzia Fides) - A thorough and independent investigation of the police and the judiciary; adequate compensation that include Churches and humanitarian organizations; prosecute government officials and police involved in violence; release of seven innocent Christians still in jail; appropriate actions against forces of religious fanaticism operating in the district of Kandhamal; implement a major program of protection of minorities; more focus on healthcare, education, communication, and address the issues of unemployment: as Fides learns, these are the main requests of the Churches and civil society forum in the state of Orissa, released on the "Day of the Martyrs", celebrated by the Catholic community in the state of Orissa, India, and, in memory of the anti-Christian massacres of 2008.
The Church celebrates the "Day of the Martyrs" on August 30 each year to commemorate the sacrifice of more than 101 people who lost their lives during the massacres especially in Kandhamal district. The violence of 2008 also caused the destruction of 8,500 houses and 395 churches, while Christian refugees, expelled forever from their villages, were more than 56,000.
The issue of justice for the victims is still open after eight years: in a massive demonstration held in Balliguda, in the district of Khandamal, attended by 15 thousand people, those present also asked to set up a Commission for Minorities at a state level. Among those present, Jugal Kishore Ranjit, activist for the rights of minorities, said that "the constitutional system has completely failed in Kandhamal", while Parliamentary Sri Jacob Pradhan, said that "the celebration of Independence Day is a farce if there are citizens who are not enjoying rights and freedoms", apostrophizing as "shameful that the government does not publish the results of a commission of inquiry on the massacre of Kandhamal".
The protesters were united in asking to "defeat forces that divide the community on the basis of caste and religion", and the government of Orissa did not comply with the provision to grant plots of forest land to tribal displaced Christian families.
Seeing Kandhamal after 8 years of violence, there have been a few changes and still no justice for the survivors. Civil and religious leaders in Balliguda signed a declaration and an appeal to the government to promote justice, peace and harmony. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/08/2016)