Violence-hit Odisha Christians await compensation

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Bhubaneswar, October 30, 2017: An ecumenical delegation has called on India’s Odisha state government to finally implement the Supreme Court’s directive to increase compensation payments to victims of anti-Christian violence.

The Supreme Court issued the order more than a year ago.

The delegation of six Christian leaders on Oct. 25 met with officials of Kandhamal district to complain about the long delay.

In 2008, Hindu nationalists in the district attacked hundreds of impoverished villages, leaving at least dozens dead — including disabled and elderly people as well as children and women.

Thousands of homes, as well as churches, were destroyed.

The Supreme Court of India on Aug. 2 last year directed the state government to pay additional compensation for the worst anti-Christian bloodshed in Indian history.

Father Ajay Kumar Singh, who works for the victims of violence, said the top district official told him that further payments had been delayed by administrative complications, but would be made within two months.

The Supreme Court asked the state to pay extra compensation of 300,000 rupees (US$4,600) per death, in addition to the 500,000 rupees already allocated to families of 39 people killed.

Increased payments were also ordered for families who had homes fully destroyed or partially damaged.

Father Singh said not even all the initial compensation obligations had been met.

And the real number of victims — through death or destruction of personal and church property — had not been recognised, he complained.

For example, while compensation had only been agreed for 39 cases of death, the real number of deaths was more like 100.

Father Singh accused the state of being indifferent to economically poor and politically insignificant Christians who comprise only 2.7 percent of the state’s 42 million population.

And he cited Supreme Court criticism of the state administration’s failure to identify and prosecute hundreds of perpetrators of the attacks.

“Ten years is a long period in a person’s life and delayed justice is denied justice,” Father Singh said. “Our legal fight will continue for our people.”

– ucan

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