Despite the state administration claims of normalcy, what has been found by the Fact-finding group report (8 November 2010) reveals a state of lawlessness and utter fear of insecurity of the persecuted Christians.
The fact finding team of consisted of four eminent activists and leaders Advocate Nicholas Barla, a tribal activist leader, Advocate Brother Marcus, a social worker, Jugal Kishore Ranjit, a dalit human right activist and Ajay Kumar Singh, human right activist visited Kandhamal on 5th of November 2010 to verify the allegations of social and economical boycotts of Kandhamal Christians. The team visited four villages of four police stations of three blocks in violent hit district of Kandhamal in Orissa.
The team first visited Gadaguda village under G. Udayagiri police station under Tikabali that witnessed violence as late as 30th of October 2008 almost two months since the anti-Christian violence unleashed and took away an elderly couple life in their late 70s. They were axed and burnt alive and scores of people injured and still one of the army man has bullets in his hands and thighs. Some are still in tents.
Barred from village well
The team interacted with the dakanaju and nearby villagers that included the postman, Sarapanch and a group of affected Christians. The team was told the Christians of dakanaju village were barred from taking water from the government dug well. The team then met Gadaguda Sarapanch, Sachindra Pradhan and asked whether he was aware of such instance. Mr.Pradhan told that he was not aware and would look into the matter and sort out at the earliest.
Pastor Forced to Become Hindu
The team then headed for Bodimunda village under Tikabali police station in Tikabali block. We parked the vehicle on the roadside and headed towards the broken buildings and houses, a sure sign of wrath of anti-Christian violence. Upon reaching the village, the team members headed for a pastor’s house as there were hardly anybody seen on the street amidst ruins. The pastor, Binod Pradhan (name changed) welcomed the group to his house and a definite anxiety reflected on his face. The team found that his house has had remain intact. The pastor told the group that he has been forced to be Hindu to save his old mother, who could not have escaped the violence as she was not in a position to walk even. Within minutes, a RSS man comes to the house to enquire about the group. The pastor informs him that the guests are bank officials as his relative works in a bank. It was a sign that the team should leave the house soon.
RSS Fine Auto Driver for Taking Paralysed Christian to Hospital
Meanwhile, the team was informed of social and economical boycott imposed on the Christians by the right wing group RSS and there would be fines if any vehicle ferry any Christian be healthy or sick or their belongings from the village to outside or from outside into village. The team wanted to verify the allegations and went to a house of certain Bamadev Pradhan, a tribal Christian. Bamadev was lying on the muddy floor and could not get up as he was struck with paralysis. The family members told the group that being paralysis man and was suffering from fever, they tried to hire auto to take him to a nearby hospital, Tikabali, 8 kilometres away from the village. Nobody was ready to come to village and lastly a Christian who owned an auto almost forced to pick up the paralytic. When the hired auto was returning after the drop, it was stopped and taken away by the RSS elements. The owner took the help of the auto union, which negotiated for the release of the auto paying fine of one thousand fifty one rupees (Rs 1051) and with the assurance that the auto owner would not ferry any Christian from the village. Not even the team has started interacting with the paralysed family members for five minutes, a Christian villager; Jesaya Nayak entered the house and informed the team members that it should leave the place as the situation is volatile.
Harassment from BDO & Police
The team went to another house; a fearful group of Christians had assembled there and interacted with them. The fearful Christians told, “We are in a state of shock. Those who have something have moved out the village and we poor people are left behind. What haunts us and saddens us is the administration, the BDO and police, who are hand in glove with RSS. Instead of becoming sensitive to our plight, the administration wants to deprive us of our basic amenities. They have banned the local autos, the only means of transportation in the area not to ferry Christians. We are not allowed to bring housing materials nor food provisions or medicines nor allowed to buy anything from the local shops. We do not have any shop of our own. Here, we are struggling to live as human being”. The team enquired whether they have complained it before the police, the people replied positively and explained the statement of IIC, Tikabli, who said “being a Christian you have to suffer and there is no option.’
The team wanted to meet the auto owner and others who have been fined. A villager volunteered to join to meet the auto owner, who has to pay the fine for ferrying the paralytic to the hospital. The auto owner, a pastor told the team that he had to pay the fine one thousand fifty one rupees despite he had to complain to the police.
RSS fine Tractor Owner Rs. 5,000
The team then met Birendra Nayak (name changed and a hindu himself), who told the team members that he had to pay Rs 5000 to get his tractor released as it was transporting the housing materials for the construction of the house of an army man, a Boarder Security Force destroyed during anti-christian violence. Birendra Nayak went on to add, “It is because the local police takes percentage, (a parlance for bribe) and protects the anti-social elements that these elements rule the roost. I informed the local police, but nothing happened”. Pushpanjali Nayak, mother said who could be contacted over telephone told the group, “this incident shocked her army son, who became ill and left the village in disgust. We are presently living under polythine like a cowshed without roof and floor and proper wall with little money that we have had managed to collect, yet we cannot build our houses. We had brought sand for the house and were taken away by RSS. Our life is hell here”. She continued sobbing as she narrated. The former pastor, who says that he would openly practise the faith if situations become normal adds, “The sand that the tractor brought for the house was taken away to build the temple in the village.”
Incidentally, there are a group of 15 police persons stationed in the village and they are mute spectators to these incidents.
Christian Homes Forced to Display Hindu Deities
The team then headed for Keredi village under Phulbani block and went to a Christian household. The team found a huge photo of Lord Krishna. Naresh Digal, an ex-army man (name changed) explained that he had to” live like a Hindu as they are four households in the locality. The environment is quite hostile and there is no support from the administration. He went on to further state that his neighbour an ex-army man had to bear the brunt of RSS people and his house was destroyed. He filed the complaints and after eight days police came to see and left the place even without entering the broken house. The life time earnings of his fellow neighbour are gone and what he would invest on the family future? What is the use of this way of life if there is no support from anywhere?” The woman who shared that her cousin has become a nun told ” we are waiting for the days when we could be free to practise the religion of our choice”. Not sure when the days would dawn.
RSS Impose Shiva & Tulsi on Christian Homes
The team then went to Gandapadar village in Minia grampanchayat in Phiringia block. It was quite interior one. It was not difficult to know the Christian houses and parked the vehicle. The woman of the house welcomed into the repaired house. The woman proudly explained how her relatives known Christians. Suddenly, we saw a huge framed photo of Lord Shiva on the wall. When asked about the photo, she changed her face and struggled to explain,” The RSS has given us the photo and Tulsi plant for worship. We have kept as often they come to check whether we reconverted into Christians. We know we can never leave our faith. The villagers also stated that almost all the houses in the village have two photos; that of Jesus and Shiva. Tarabati Digal explained that there are 10 families still living outside the village.
Peoples’ Fact Finding Report Team: Advocate Nicholas Barla, tribal activist leader, Advocate Marcus, social worker, Jugal Kishore Ranjit, dalit human right activist, Ajay Kumar Singh, human right activist, For Further contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org 8th November 2010, Phulbani, Kandhamal