NEW 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’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’.
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