Kandhamal tribunal seeks SIT to review cases * Public officials, police colluded with attackers: Report

December 11, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Karnataka, newsletter-india, Persecution

Kandhamal ViolenceKarnataka, December 11, 2011: The Kandhamal violence of 2008 “meets all the elements of crimes against humanity,” said the report of the Justice-A.P. Shah-headed National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal, which was released here on Saturday.

The report recommends the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to re-examine the First Information Reports already registered, to file fresh FIRs where necessary and to recommend remedial measures where trials had been vitiated because of intimidation of witnesses and lack of evidence. The tribunal has asked for an enquiry covering the acts of all public officials, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and sought legal action against those guilty of dereliction of duty, collusion and complicity in crimes.


The report, “Waiting for Justice”, is a detailed compilation of the circumstances leading to the violence and the personal accounts of the victims and their relatives recorded in hearings held here. It assesses the overall impact of the violence on women and children and evaluates the processes of justice, accountability and reparations.

Brutal attacks’

The report says: “The attacks were widespread and were executed with substantial planning and preparation … Christians who refused to convert to Hinduism were brutally killed or injured [and] human rights defenders have been deliberately targeted for their role in assisting the victim-survivors.”

The tribunal sought identification of unreported cases of sexual and gender-based violence and inclusion of the offence of sexual assault in FIRs; appointment of Special Public Prosecutors and a special panel of lawyers to represent the victims at the appellate stage; setting up legal cells to assist victims in their cases and protection of witnesses during and after the trial processes.

Policy sought

The tribunal also asked for the maintenance of “minimum international standards of health, hygiene and privacy, especially for women and children, at the relief camps”. Finally, it called for the formulation of a “policy/programme to urgently address the issue of institutional bias against the Christian community through a combination of perspective-building and stringent action intended at upholding the rule of law.”

The tribunal has asked for an enquiry covering the acts of all public officials, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

– thehindu

Public officials, police colluded with attackers: Report


Widows of KandhamalKarnataka, December 10, 2011: Kanakrekha Nayak’s horrifying past will always haunt her. On 25 August, 2008, the 31-year-old woman from Kandhamal, Odisha, had to flee from a 500-strong mob that burned down her village Tiangia. She along with her two children watched helplessly as five men dragged her husband Parikhita Nayak for more than a kilometre to a nearby temple with a bicycle chain tied around his neck. They chopped him into pieces and burned them as she cried in protest. “They asked him whether he would covert to Hinduism. When he said that he had been a Christian for the last 30 years and Christianity was his faith, they killed him,” says Kanakrekha.

This was just one of the many instances where hundreds of lives changed drastically in Kandhamal in 2008 as Hindu extremists committed arson and murders in their mission to convert Christians to Hinduism. Several victims are still awaiting justice.

The National People’s Tribunal on Saturday released its 144-page report aimed at seeking justice, accountability and peace and restoring the right of victims and survivors to a dignified life. The Tribunal, held in New Delhi on 22-24 August, 2010, was organised by the National Solidarity Forum. The 12-member jury, headed by retired Justice AP Shah, had heard the testimonies of 45 victims, survivors and their representatives. The report also incorporates and draws upon the contents of studies, field surveys, research, fact-finding reports and statements recorded with the Tribunal, which was presented by 15 experts.

“In the case of Kanakrekha Nayak, one of the men convicted of murdering her husband was the local MLA. He was found guilty and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. However, he was soon released on bail by the High Court on the grounds that he was a public figure,” said Father Ajay Kumar Singh, one of the organisers of the Tribunal. “We found that most people who perpetrated these acts of violence were never even charged—and few that were charged got bail,” he added.

Kanakrekha hasn’t gone back to her village since 2008. “I’m struggling to support myself and my children. There is always threat to our lives from persons against whom I had filed a complaint as they are free despite killing my husband and many others.”

According to the Tribunal’s report, communal forces used religious conversions as an issue for political motives and incited horrific violence that was executed with substantial planning and preparation. Evidence of the attacks was systematically and meticulously destroyed to sidestep the processes of justice and accountability, the report added. The Tribunal also highlighted deliberate dereliction of constitutionally mandated duties by public officials and their connivance with communal forces with the aim of deliberately circumventing the process of justice through acts of commission and omission.

The criminal justice system had been ineffective in protecting victim, survivors and witnesses, and the police’ collusion with the perpetrators during the phase of investigation and prosecution indicated an institutional bias against the targeted Christian Adivasi and Dalit communities, the report said.

“One of our major recommendations is that a special investigation team (SIT) be set up on the lines of the SIT, which investigated the Gujarat riots, to deliver justice to those who have been severely wronged,” Father Singh.

– fr.ajay kumar singh

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