Indian Christians mark 8th anniversary of Kandhamal’s anti-Christian carnage

August 27, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Odisha, August 26, 2016: Christians in India  on Thursday marked the 8th anniversary of the terrible anti-Christian massacres and atrocities in eastern India’s Odisha state, with survivors still awaiting justice and compensation from the government.  The orchestrated violence against Christians erupted with untold savagery on August 25 2008, with Hindu extremists blaming Christians for the August 23, 2008 murder of Hindu leader Swami ‎Lakshmanananda Saraswati, despite Maoist rebels ‎claiming the assassination.

The carnage led to the death of about 100 Christians, although the government officially speaks of 38 victims. An estimated 5,600 homes were looted and burned, while about 300 churches and other places of worship were destroyed. More than 50 thousand faithful fled into the woods and began a life as refugees to survive ethnic cleansing.

The Governor of Odisha, Senayangba Chubatoshi Jamir, on ‎August 25 received a copy of journalist Anto Akkara’s investigative book ‘Who ‎Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ at the Raj Bhavan in Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar.‎  The book busts the myth the Christians were behind the murder.

After receiving the copy of the book, Governor Jamir listened eagerly to the ‎shocking tale of the travesty of justice due to the Kandhamal fraud with seven ‎innocent Christians – six of them illiterates – serving life imprisonment for murdering the Swami.‎  Akkara, a rights advocate who has pursued Kandhamal’s mockery of justice for eight ‎years with 23 arduous trips to Kandhamal, in a letter urged the Governor “to ‎ensure justice to the innocent convicts”.‎

‎”It is a blot on the Indian democracy and the judicial system that these innocent ‎convicts have been languishing in jail for nearly eight years,” reiterated the ‎author requesting the Governor “to take up this cry of the oppressed with the ‎concerned authorities.”‎  The Governor assured the author to go through the book ‘carefully’.‎

The seven convicts languishing in jail for nearly eight years are Duryodhan ‎Sunamajhi, Munda Badamajhi, Sanatan Badamajhi, Garnatha Chalanseth, Bijay ‎Kumar Samseth, Bhaskar Sunamajhi and Budhadeb Nayak.‎ The journalist author also launched an online petition for the release of the seven ‎innocent Christian convicts at in early March in New Delhi in the presence of the illiterate wives of the convicts along with a host ‎of dignitaries.‎

Late retired Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, whose jurisdiction includes Kandhamal District, had tirelessly campaigned for justice for his persecuted Christians,  In 2008, he  had filed a Public Interest Litigation in India’s Supreme Court seeking directives to the union and state governments for protection, compensation and rehabilitation of ‎the victims..  The 82-year old Divine Word prelate died on August 14, after the apex court issued a ruling seeking directives to the union and state governments for protection, compensation and rehabilitation of the victims.  The Aug. 2 ruling also called for re-investigation of 315 cases of communal violence against Christians.

Meanwhile, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay recalled the victims of Kandhamal, wishing they be raised on the altar of the martyrs.   “May their blood and suffering bring many fruits to the Church in Odisha,” the cardinal, who’s also president of India’s Latin Rite Bishops (CCBI), told AsiaNews ahead of the first “Kandhamal Martyrs Day” which the bishops of Odisha have designated for Aug. 30, Tuesday.  Speaking to AsiaNews, the cardinal who is also president of India’s Latin Rite Bishops (CCBI)  The prelate to spoke to AsiaNews

“The Church in India stands in prayerful solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Odisha. It has been eight years since the horrific attack on our Khandhamal Christians, and the Indian Church suffers the painful anguish of the orchestrated communal violence. We continue to seek justice for survivors and victims,” Card. Gracias added.

– vatican radio

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