Category Archives: Anto Akkara

Kandhamal Unresolved – Docufilm

KANDHAMAL UNRESOLVED - Docufilm

KANDHAMAL, Odisha — It’s been five years since the communal violence unleashed on Christians in Kandhamal, Odisha (Orissa). Until now, peace and justice have been denied to the victims. Very few were arrested and even they have been released on bail and some of them been acquitted for lack of evidence.

The victims of communal violence are continued to be denied of peace/justice and a dignified living. “Kandhamal Unresolved” looks into the present situation of Kandhamal, especially the struggles of victims, denial of peace and justice, intimidation and hate campaign by Sangh Parivar and relationship between the Hindu Identity and the Dalit/Adivasi Identity. The film is now at Youtube.
You may click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPu0r01wDlA

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December 13, 2013 · 1:48 am

Marchers for dalit rights drenched in dirty water, face baton charge

priests in cassock braves dirty water canon

Priests in cassock brave dirty water canon

New Delhi, (Anto Akkara) — The decades of Christian protests for end to the discrimination against Christian dalits witnessed dramatic scenes on December 11 with over 400 protesters including half a dozen Catholic bishops arrested and detained.
The arrests came after the protesters led by over 20 bishops of various denominations, dozens of priests and nuns from across India broke through police barricades and marched to the Parliament shouting ‘we want justice’.

A nun pleads with Police on her knees

A nun pleads with Police on her knees

The government introduced 15 percent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs as well as free education for Hindu dalits in 1950 for the social uplift of ‘untouchable’ dalits- while excluding non-Hindu dalits from its purview.

Though these statutory privileges were later extended to Sikh dalits in 1956 and Buddhist dalits in 1990, the repeated cry of the Christian dalits who account for two thirds of 27 million Christians in India have gone unanswered despite frequent protests and rallies across the country.

Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi addressing the gathering

Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi addressing the gathering

Scores of Muslims also had joined the march that was jointly organized by the Catholic church, National Council of Churches in India that groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches, Muslim and social action groups.

In desperate bid to stop the marchers, police first lathi-charged and beat up several protesters across the Patel House Metro station. 

Even nuns could be seen questioning the police for the brutality even as church leaders confronted the police.

Police beat up peaceful protestors

Police beat up peaceful protestors

Undeterred, the protesters including priests in cassocks soon regrouped and knelt on the road with crosses in hand even as police truck mounted with water cannons sprayed them with muddy water several times.

It was shocking that police later claimed that they never used dirty water despite photos clearly proving it.

With the protesters including bishops refusing to budge, police arrested more than 400 of them including the bishops led by Delhi archbishop Anil Coutto and detained them.

 

Two lawyer nuns plead with Police

Two lawyer nuns plead with Police

“The Prime Minister has agreed to meet us tomorrow. So, we are leaving the police station now,” said Franklin Caesar, an outspoken Catholic dalit activist on getting out of the police station after five hours of ‘protest’ in the Parliament Street police station.

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Filed under Abuse of Church authority, AICU, Anto Akkara, Archbishop Anil Couto, Dalit Christians

NHRC whitewashes Kandhamal

National-Human-Rights-CommissionNEW DELHI, (Anto Akkara) — The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), set up with the mandate to ensure ‘better protection of human rights’, was a beacon of hope to the victims of the post-Godhra carnage. However, it did not even issue a single press release on Kandhamal in five years.

Repeated efforts to get a response to this mysterious silence on the mayhem in Kandhamal evoked no response.  In fact, stunning was the ‘ENQUIRY REPORT’ submitted by the NHRC investigation team that made a clear attempt to whitewash the colossal human rights infringement in Kandhamal. The NHRC’s sweeping observation that “the relief camps have been well established” stood in stark contrast to the tell-tale reports of social action groups highlighting the deplorable state of affairs in the open-air refugee camps without even water supply and sanitation.

The NHRC investigation team seemed to have turned public relations agents for the beleaguered Odisha police. The insensitivity of the investigation team was reinforced in its reporting of the gang-rape and murder of a Hindu girl who had been burnt alive. “A twenty year-old late Rajani Majhi sacrificed her life to save the life of the children living in the orphanage …” remarked the NHRC investigators.  It is shocking that the NHRC failed to report or deliberately covered up the gang-rape and burning alive of a Hindu college girl – herself an orphan who looked after 22 young Hindu orphan boys at the Christian centre.

The white washing of the Kandhamal conflagration by the national human rights watchdog raises the question whose brief was it carrying out?

 Anto Akkara, Journalist author of ‘Kandhamal craves for Justice’

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Filed under anti-Christian attacks, Anto Akkara, Human Rights, IDP, Kandhamal, Kandhamal Craves for Justice, National Human Roghts Commission

Institute NIA inquiry, says Digvijaya Singh on Kandhamal 5th anniversary

book release- allNEW DELHI –  The AICC general secretary and senior Congress party leader, Digvijaya Singh has called for an inquiry by NIA (National Investigation Agency) into the widespread anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal while releasing an investigative book on the fifth anniversary of the Kandhamal violence.

“Communalism in the name of any religion should not be tolerated. Kandhamal is a fit case for NIA inquiry,” pointed out Singh at the release of the book titled ‘Kandhamal craves for Justice’ authored by senior journalist Anto Akkara.

Singh congratulated the author of the investigative book for ‘pursuing the case of carnage in Orissa single-handedly’ and said that it has brought out shocking information about what had happened in Kandhamal. “I know, more than all of you, the level of infiltration that fascist forces have made into the military, police, judiciary and legislative bodies,” Singh added.

“What has happened in Kandhamal is travesty of justice. Yet, the NHRC and the government has not even responded to the report the People’s Tribunal,” pointed out Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and chairman of National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal, after releasing the book and handing over the first copy to Digvijaya Singh.

Following the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008, the massive funeral procession across Kandhamal district turned it into an inferno. In weeks of unabated violence, more than 100 Christians perished while 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses were looted and torched, rendering 56,000 Christians refugees.

“It is shocking to read that an MLA, accused in seven murders, was sitting outside the Fast Track Court with his men – questioning everyone who goes inside,” noted Justice Shah drawing attention to ‘shocking facts’ brought out in the book published by Veritas India Books.

Kandhamal“Kandhamal’s story of five years is a travesty of justice. Of the 3,232 complaints, there has been a mere 75 convictions despite two Fast Track Courts being set up. Among the 27 murder trial verdicts, the Fast Track Court has found the accused guilty only in two cases. Is this justice?” asked the journalist who made 17 trips to Kandhamal ‘to investigate the mountain of injustice’. “The stoic silence of the NHRC on Kandhamal is shocking. It has not even made a press release on Kandhamal so far,” pointed out the author.

Further, Akkara noted that Kandhamal has “exposed the ugly face of Hindutva”. “Apart from hounding the Christians, the self declared protectors of Hinduism, gang-raped and burnt alive even an orphan Hindu college student looking 22 Hindu boys at a Christian centre. Is this Hinduism?” pointed out the author.

“A silent, obliging media also plays a role. Only a handful of fearless journalists like Anto Akkara have doggedly reported on the atrocities in Kandhamal. We need to applaud their work. Because, truth alone will prevail. Truth alone will save us,” remarked Swami Agnivesh, outspoken eminent social activist and reformist Arya Samaj leader.

“Without the connivance of the Chief Minister of a state, communal violence cannot happen. Even if it happens, it cannot drag on for more than 24 hours,” noted Swami Agnivesh. He also decried the silence of the NHRC to the massive injustice in Kandhamal.

Vrinda Grover, senior lawyer and human rights activist said that the injustices after the riots against Sikh in Delhi in 1984, Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Christians in Kandhamal calls for a stringent legislation ‘to curb the impunity behind communal violence’.

For more info Contact: antoakkara@gmail.com
+91.9958602840, 9448383350

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Filed under Anto Akkara, Christianity, Christians Harassed in Orissa, Kandhamal, Kandhamal Craves for Justice

‘Kandhamal Craves for Justice’

InvitationNEW DELHI — A new book entitled ‘Kandhamal Craves for Justice’ authored by journalist Anto Akkara packed with real-life stories, telling photos and incisive research inputs is due for release, 23rd August 2013.

Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice A P Shah released the explosive investigative book on Kandhamal and gave the first copy to AICC General Secretary Mr. Digvijaya Singh at Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.

The book by award-winning journalist Anto Akkara raises uncomfortable questions on the justice delivery system and throws up vital leads about the murder shrouded in mystery that triggered the mayhem.

Five years into the orgy of violence and deprivation, the journalist author calls for national attention into the travesty of justice in Kandhamal demanding answers to unanswered questions like:
Was there a bigger conspiracy behind the murder in the jungle?
How did the mighty arms of the Secular Democratic Republic of India respond to the challenge?
Did the judicial system falter in delivering justice?
Why did the national human rights watchdog remain silent on the blatant human right abuses in Kandhamal?

Earlier Akkara stirred the national conscience with his investigative book ‘Kandhamal – a blot on Indian Secularism’. Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar described it as ‘a must-read book’ at its launch in New Delhi in April 2009. Justice M F Saldana commented at the release in Bangalore that given the objectivity of the book, it should be treated as an ‘official report’ on the Kandhamal violence and urged the government to act on it.
Late K G Kannabiran, president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, hailed the book as ‘a charge-sheet on Kandhamal’ during the launch in Hyderabad.
Home Minister P Chidambaram who visited Kandhamal soon after receiving the book from the author told the Parliament on July 15, 2009 that what had happened in Kandhamal was ‘a blot on the face of Orissa’ – quoting the title of the book.
Armed with post graduate diploma in journalism and LL.B from Delhi University, Anto Akkara has been a journalist with international media for over two decades. The author has reported extensively from hotspots in South Asia on human rights, religious issues and social problems, winning a dozen national and international media awards in the process.
Contact:
antoakkara@gmail.com
veritasindiabooks@gmail.com
www.veritasindiabooks.org
91.9958602840, 9448383350, 9343501214

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Filed under anti-Christian attacks, Anto Akkara, Christians Harassed in Orissa, Kandhamal

Journalist Anto Akkara wins International award

Anto Akkara

Anto Akkara

KOLKATA (28 June) —  Geneva-based  ICOM (International Christian Organisation of the Media) has chosen Indian journalist Anto Akkara for the Titus Brandma International award for journalism to be conferred at the World Media and Journalism Congress to be held at Panama city in October.

The ICOM in its communication to Akkara, working with international media as South Asia correspondent, said that its triennial award has been instituted in memory of Blessed Titus Brandsma who was a Dutch journalist and Carmelite priest who died in 1942 at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

“The jury took the decision considering the contribution you have made in defending human rights and speaking up for the oppressed in your journalistic work in South Asia. By deciding to confer this prestigious honour to you, the jury acknowledges the stellar role you have played in highlighting the gross denial of fundamental rights and freedom of religion in the Kandhamal jungles of Orissa,” ICOM said

(Kindly go to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#search/icom%40bluewin.ch/13ca5fd7d1aef3e6 for more info about ICOM and the award).

After masters in English literature from St Thomas College Thrissur, Akkara did LL.B from DelhiUniversity and has been working for over two decades with international media as foreign correspondent covering South Asia.

The journalist author who has won several media awards stirred the national conscience with his investigative book ‘Kandhamal – a blot on Indian Secularism’ following the orchestrated anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal jungles of Orissa from August 2008. Akkara’s latest book on Kandhamal ‘Early Christians of 21st Century’ released in February 2013 at Vailankanni.

Contact: antoakkara@gmail.com, 91.9448383350, 91.9745359402

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Filed under Anto Akkara, International Christian Organisation of the Media, Titus Brandsma award, Uncategorized

Faith stories from Kandhamal released

cardinal releases book with arbp thazhathKOCHI, ( Adv. Jose Vithayathil) — Major archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry released  the Malayalam translation of the English book ‘Early Christians of 21st century – stories of incredible Christian witness from Kandhamal jungles’ in Orissa at the Kerala Catholic Council assembly in Kochi on December 11.

The 75,000 word book, authored by journalist Anto Akkara and is being translated into French, is a collection over of 100 stories amazing witness to the Christian faith amid brutal persecution of poor but valiant Christians and has been translated by Fr Dr. Devassy Panthallookaran, former principal of St Thomas College, Thrissur.

Cardinal Alencherry released the book in the presence over 100 top Kerala church leaders including three dozen bishops by handing over the first copy to archbishop Andrews Thazhath, president of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC).

malayalam book cover“I congratulate Anto (Akkara) for bringing to the attention of the world the sufferings and unwavering faith of the persecuted Christians of Kandhamal, going beyond his role as a journalist,” said Cardinal Alencherry while releasing the book. In his additional foreword to  the book (apart from the one from Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India),  Major archbishop Cardinal Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar  church  has described the book as ‘a testimonial for martyrs’.

“This is an inspiring book in the year of Faith,” remarked archbishop Thazhath, head of the Kerala church, during the release at the headquayPastotrheld .

Orthodox bishop Gabriel mar Gregorios, president of Kerala Council of Churches (that comprises of all major non-Catholic churches in the Christian heartland of Kerala), in his tribute to the book has described it as ‘a book that every Christian must read’.

Akkara in his response said that though he visited Kandhamal initially as a journalist to report from the ground zero, it was the incredible faith of the valiant Christians who remained firm in their faith despite untold suffering that forced him to make arduous trips to Kandhamal repeatedly for five years since Christmas 2007.

“I have tried to document truthfully their incredible faith, pains and sufferings in words and pictures,” said the photo journalist author who added that more than 100 Christians died for their faith in Kandhamal while 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses were looted, torched or destroyed rendering more than 56,000  people homeless.

The Malayalam translation of the book is published by Veritas India Books, a new publishing firm based in Thrissur.

Adv. Jose Vithayathtil
Secretary, Laity Commission, KCBC
Contact: 9447027145

(Akkara had earlier authored two books, ‘Kandhamal – a blot on Indian Secularism’ – investigative book that stirred national conscience on Kandhamal in April 2009, and later ‘Shining Faith in Kandhamal’)

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Filed under anti-Christian attacks, Anto Akkara, Kandhamal, Orissa