Kandhamal victims move NHRC, demand Task Force for compensation, rehabilitation, development

NEW DELHI, 13 September 2012 —  The victims of the anti Christian violence in Kandhamal in December 2007 and August-October 2008 have asked the National human Rights Commission to direct the State government to set up a Task Force which will ensure comprehensive compensation, rehabilitation, education and employment  for the people.

Initiative for Justice, peace and Human Rights secretary Advocate Fr Dibya Parichha and Dr John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council and Secretary General, All India Christian Council, met NHRC chairman Justice K G Balakrishnan and National Minorities Commission Mr Wajahat Habibullah in New Delhi and submitted a detailed memorandum listing the shortcomings in compensation, rehabilitation, employment and justice delivery.

They pointed out that four years after the violence, the victims suffer from miscarriage of justice, inadequate compensation and almost no regard to rehabilitation and employment. Even the Central government’s Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is not properly implemented for the Christian poor. Children are the worst victim – official apathy and continuing poverty of their parents as the main reason.

An inclusive Task Force was therefore required for comprehensive action to help the victims who are yet to get out of the trauma of the violence.  It may be recalled that over 5,000 victims had staged a demonstration in the district capital Phulbani on 25 August to voice their protest at the state of affairs.

The memorandum pointed out the district administration’s  perfidy even in the matter of counting the dead.  There were outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and malaria in the relief camps. As many as 27 persons, mostly aged or very young died because of this or of injuries sustained in the attacks. Their names are not included in the official list of deaths for compensation. Similarly  5 persons who were maimed by the attackers have also not got relief.

Widows are also in distress. 27 widows and many more whose husbands’ murders have not been recorded by the police and the administration and their aged parents are in dire need of assistance such as pension and employment.

The survey list of Orissa Government for compensation for homes damaged during the communal violence 2008 is not accurate. Hundreds of families who lost their homes were not registered. The compensation of Rs. 50, 000/- for fully damaged homes and Rs. 25, 000/- for partially damaged homes is far below the actual loss and damaged suffered and inadequate for rebuilding the structure. The compensation granted by the state towards rebuilding 230 churches and prayer halls is grossly inadequate.

Similarly, as many as 11 public institution and NGOs which were looted and destroyed during the violence by the Mob are not considered for compensation by the State Government despite the fact that Criminal complaints were registered and representations submitted to the administration for compensation. The list of 11 institutions with details is given in Annexure- 7, p. 57

Another serious issue is of the rehabilitation of Christians involved in small businesses which were totally destroyed in targeted violence. On the other hand, of the 101 shop-owners, 11 have been served notice of recovery by the banks under PMRY loan scheme (Prime Minister’s Rozagar Yozna).

It is estimated that approximately 10,000 victims are still living outside their respective villages in other districts of Orissa and migrated to states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat etc. unable to return due to threat to lives, social and economic boycott, conditions to withdraw criminal complaints and convert to Hinduism and forcible conversion. The total number of people requires official verification

A survey by the internationally reputed “HAQ: Centre for Child Rights”, in Kandhamal during 2010-2011 revealed the nature of the severe impact of the violence on education of the affected Dalit and Tribal children. All children lost an academic year.  Those in secondary school missed the Board Examinations and many dropped out of school as they were unable to pay the fees. Hundreds of children left Kandhamal for other states like Gujarat, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh looking for work. Some were trafficked. Government has not taken any action so far.

[For more details, Please Contact Fr Dibya or Dr John Dayal 9811021072]

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Filed under Christians Harassed in Orissa, Kandhamal, Orissa

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