Update from India

Standing in stark contrast to the district administration’s claims of peace in Kandhamal, a fact-finding team has divulged that riot-hit victims face social boycott coupled with continued threats from the Sangh Parivar.

A four-member team of prominent activists discovered a “state of lawlessness and utter fear” of persecuted Christians who are facing social and economic boycott from the right-wing RSS, two years after the violence.

Fines were allegedly being collected from vehicles ferrying Christians or their belongings and many were barred from taking water from the government well, stated the preliminary report.

“Christians have lost confidence in the police and local councils. Despite complaining several times on these gross realities, they have done nothing but instead work hand in glove with the assailants,” said Fr Ajay Singh, who was also part of the fact-finding mission.

He told Christian Today that victims were denied transportation and were even disallowed from buying food provisions or medicines, largely due to the saffron influence.

“For instance, we had been to a house of certain Bamadev Pradhan who was struck with paralysis. While suffering from fever, the family looked for an auto to take him to a nearby hospital. When only a Christian turned up, his auto was confiscated by activists of the RSS who collected a fine of Rs 1,051. The auto was released after an assurance that the owner would not ferry any Christian from the village.”

Fr. Ajay also informed the serious violation of religious freedom as still many were forcefully converted to Hinduism, the recent involving a Catholic pastor in Bodimunda village.

“Although the administration is putting efforts to improve the lives of people, still much needs to be done. Many Christians continue to be threatened and beaten. They are not able to freely worship and profess their faith. The police only are mute spectators to such violations,” he said.

The team led by Advocate Nicholas Barla, a tribal activist leader, visited four villages that were ravaged by the 2008 violence in the aftermath of Swami Laxmananda’s murder.

A public tribunal headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, AP Shah, recently recommended an “enquiry into and suspension of police and administrative officials responsible for grave dereliction of duty”.

The tribunal expressed deep shock over the “brutal manner in which members of the Christian community were killed, dismembered, sexually assaulted and tortured.”


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