Category Archives: Orissa

Report of rapes on minor Christians

rape victimBHUBANESWAR, (Ajay Singh) — It is shameful that heinous crimes including gang rapes and murder of young Dalit girls in Kandhamal is excluded from the discourse on rape in our country, says Asha Kowtal, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manc.

Bhubaneswar, January 11, 2013 – The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights with allied organizations like NAWO, Odisha Forum for Social Action, human rights activists and journalists conducted a fact finding visit to investigate into the recent cases of rapes in Kandhamal district, addressed the media today at Red Cross, Bhubaneswar.

On January 10, 2013, the fact finding team visited five villages (Tiangia, Simanbadi, Daringbadi, Badagaon, Sarangoda and Tikabali) in Kandhamal district. In each village, the team has met the rape survivor, the family, community members and the investigating police officers at the police station. Finally, the fact-finding team has met the District Collector in Kandhamal and shared the findings and recommendations.

The members of the team express their shock and anguish over the gruesome cases of rape and murder of Dalit Christian girls in the recent months at Kandhamal and at the same time are angered with the fact that these cases never figure in the recent discussions on sexual violence and rape in India. Dalit girls living in remote tribal areas of India with little access to livelihood and life are battered brutally and killed, and yet this is not enough for the Orissa Government to hang its head in shame.

In Kandhamal, if at all given, a rape case is given Rs. 5000 and rape and murder is given Rs. 10,000 as compensation and in Delhi the recent much publicized case was announced Rs. 15,00,000 (Fifteen Lakh rupees) !!! This shows the apathy of the Government and clear exclusion of issues of Dalit and minority girls.

The discussion with the District Collector in Kandhamal has revealed that the district administration has no money for rehabilitation of rape survivors and their families. He said, “I have no money for the compensation and rehabilitation of minority (Dalit Christian) girl survivors of rape.”

Delays in investigation, serious lapse in role of police, zero support from district administration and total break down of statutory bodies is clearly visible in every case that has been investigated. The entire child protection system, including CWC, JJB, Child line has not played any role in support of the victims as well the minor accused in the cases that we have investigated, says Manju Prabha, NAWO

Bogus baba’s and fake leaders like Bhagwat have been issuing baseless statements to the media and we condemn them as anti-human and misogynist ideas. The impunity enjoyed by a few in our country has instigated such people and others to get away scot-free. Such is the case in Kandhamal as well, where community control has been dismantled and hence people and officials are shocked to witness such horrific crimes in the area.

The Chief Minister of Orissa claims to have stayed away from New Year celebrations, in solidarity with the recent victim of rape in Delhi, but we wonder what he has done in response to these five inhuman acts of sexual violence on young Dalit girls in Kandhamal? , says Namrata Daniel, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

The families of the rape victims live in abject poverty conditions, without access to basic entitlements. Absence of job cards, access to PDS and other flag- ship programmes was clearly visible in all cases.


* As per the National Crime Record Bureau, Crime in India from 1995 – 2009, almost 261 murdered cases were reported in Odisha followed by 502 rape and 1623 numbers of attempt to murdered cases

  • As per the National Crime Record Bureau, Crime in India from 1995 – 2009, it is found that, 46 abducted cases are registered in the police station in the state of Odisha.
  • In total 11410 no. of complains registered out of which 8408 cases have been  charge sheeted during the  three years ( 2009-2011). Only in 9 cases, the accused have been convicted while in 148 cases the accused got acquitted.
  • Since 2009, Mahila Commission has received 234 nos of complaints of rape and only in 2012, it has received 56 nos. of complaints of rape.
  • During last three years Mahila Commission has received 10088 nos. of complains of women atrocities in Odisha.

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Seven falsely accused denied hearing 7 times

PHULBANI, Orisa, (Markose K J) —  Today, (17 Dec,2012)  was yet another date fixed for statements of the accused. As previous dates elapsed without the court hearing the accused today too passed event less.  More than 7 dates have passed like this during the past 60 days.

The Judge did not sit in the court. Bench clerk gave next date – 22 / 12. The seven under-trials (accused of killing Swami Laxmanand)  were, as usual, brought to the verandah of the court, kept there for whole day and were taken back to prison. On each date they come to the court with the hope of telling their innocence in the court. But go back sadly. Even their lawyer appeared desperate. The police personnel who accompany the under-trials feel sympathetic.

Cases are not supposed to be prolonging at Fast Track Courts. But this case is exceptionally prolonging at the fast track court at Phulbani.  Due to undue delay at fast Track Courts, the High Court was approached and the HC directed, in September, the Fast Track Court to “complete hearing the case and give judgment in two months”. Though that time limit has been over, the trial court appears to be not bothered.

According to Mr Sangram Singh (Advocate), The Fast Track Courts appear to have become even less serious about justice after the recent order from the honorable Supreme Court asking for explanation regarding light punishments and large number of acquittals in riot-related cases.

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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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Update on the plight of Kandhamal riot widows

BHUBANESWAR, (Ajaya Kumar Singh) — Last one week, I was in Kandhamal and met a few widows. Except one widow, where there is a conviction of the accused, the rest cases the accused are acquitted despite stinging evidences. Presently, the majority of widows are living in other than their own villages due to security concerns.

The government gives a widow pension of Rs 300 per month while Asmita Digal is supported generously by private source as shared to me that is good enough to meet the housing rent. She could not be entitled to get Rs 300 and a grant of Rs 10,000 by the block office as she is yet to receive the death certificate of her husband. It is irony that the same government recognized her widow and provided Rs 5 lakh and yet still not providing death certificate to give her widow pension.

The very minimum expenses for the month reaches upto Rs 3000 that includes the housing rent Rs 500 to Rs 700 per month. The deficit is met by the bank interests of the deposit of Rs five lakh provided to each widow and the occasional generosity of well wishers. As the widows have lost their breadwinners, the compensation deposits are also getting depleted with some are having Rs two to three lakh each presently. Of course, they are being caught up with their own survival with dignity and that of their children’s future.

UNDP, GOI and Odisha government in its latest Odisha Human Development Report said 92% and 87% of tribals and dalits of the region live under BPL. We could imagine what would be the state of affairs with the onslaught. The relatives who join the widows on their mobility and at home and their expenses are also met by the widows themselves. The trauma, fear as well as injustice have toll on their security and peace. The government compensation is not enough to rebuild the lives of the widows. They are wailing for justice. Yet the widows and homeless people are grateful to all the goodwill and generous people who did and continue to do their best in word, prayer and action in every way possible.
As far as the information I have, Bishop Joab’s group is one of the very few church groups who are one of the first ones wholeheartedly came forward to rebuild several hundreds houses and other supports when the survivors were scattered and were in panic. They continue to be involved in restoring and rebuilding affected people.

I would also put on a note that David Griffith, whom I met five times in the aftermath of Kandhamal violence in Odisha came to me as a person very much concerned for the victims and survivors. The last one being in the last month to understand the issue. He has been raising the issue.  If Kandhamal issue and religious freedom of Christians in India were raised in Human Rights Council, Geneva in September 12 that asked India to address, David is one of the very few persons working for it. We do feel obliged and grateful to him for what he does.

The attack on Christians is the longest and largest in Odisha beginning from early 1960s and we should not allow it happens not only in Odisha, but throughout in India. We are planning for timeline to start with in Odisha. If anybody has any information on the attacks, please do share so that we could circulate it.

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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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5,000 Kandhamal Victims Gather To Demand Justice

KANDHAMAL, 31 August, (Dan Wooding)– Around 5,000 victims and survivors of the 2008 communal violence in Kandhamal district, Orissa, attended a public rally yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the violence and call for justice, peace and harmony. Local authorities only granted permission on the evening before the rally, and organizers claimed they had deliberately obstructed it for as long as possible.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Bishop Sarat Nayak, Catholic Bishop of Berhampur, addressed the rally, saying, “Peace can come only when there is truth and justice.”

The Christians, some of whom covered their mouths with black ribbons, displayed banners with slogans including, “We want justice, justice, justice,” “Stop politics in the name of religion,” and “We demand brotherhood in Kandhamal.”

The rally also included a song written by Sharada Charan, a survivor of the violence, which captured some of the collective sentiment of the victims. The lyrics are translated as, “We are the people of Kandhamal / We are searching for our lost friends / We lived blinded by unfaith / We forgot love and affection in the shadow of discrimination / There are only sorrowful tears / Smiles of happiness have faded / the sons of the land are leaving / They are thrown away on the road of progress / So let’s forget the past and move forward / Singing songs of love.”

Fr. Ajay Singh, an Orissa-based human rights activist involved in facilitating the Kandhamal rally, said, “This rally was to pay homage to the dead, and to call for justice, security and livelihood for the victims. It was to draw the attention of the government and other stakeholders to these needs, and to encourage the victims and build up solidarity among them.”

“Despite the government giving permission only at the very last moment, the people came from far-flung, remote areas serviced with little public transport, braving the rain and possible threats and intimidation from the Sangh Parivar [extremist Hindu nationalist organisations] and government officials,” said a CSW spokesperson.

“That indicates their thirst for justice, which you could see written on their faces, and when they left, they had a feeling that justice would be done sooner or later. We need to see progress towards that.”

CSW said that also on August 30, the Himachal Pradesh High Court delivered a judgment in a case challenging the anti-conversion law in the state, striking down two provisions but holding the other aspects of the law to be constitutional. The court ruled against section 4 of the law, which makes it mandatory for a person seeking to convert to give prior notice to the district administration (except in the case of those re-converting to their earlier religion, which typically refers to a conversion to Hinduism), and rules 3 and 5, which mandate the state to inquire into every conversion. The Evangelical Fellowship of India, a principal petitioner in the case, welcomed the striking down of two clauses but said it was “regrettable” that the rest of the law was upheld, and noted that this “inadvertently played into the hands of communal forces.”

David Griffiths, South Asia Team Leader for CSW, said, “As Bishop Sarat noted at the Kandhamal rally, justice is a prerequisite for peace. It is important to remember that the 2008 violence in Orissa came only eight months after an earlier wave of violence, for which there was mass impunity. With extremists still perpetuating communal tensions and the victims remaining deeply disenfranchised, the only way to guard against further violence and to promote true peace is to secure justice. That is why the cry of the victims must be heard.

“In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling striking down two aspects of the anti-conversion law was welcome, but it is disappointing that the other provisions of the law were upheld. The very concept of anti-conversion laws has been strongly criticized both by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and during India’s recent Universal Periodic Review at the UN, and we fully concur with the view that these laws are in violation of India’s obligations under international law.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

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PM and HM Urged: Extend Hindutva Terrror Probe to Orissa & Karnataka

“Saint” Pragya Thakur

MUMBAI – According to The CSF (Christian Secular Forum) Mumbai, the recent statement (23rd March 2011) by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Mumbai’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) that Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit was involved in the anti-Christian violence that rocked Orissa and Karnataka is not to be seen in isolation. Rather it is to be read along with the earlier Indian Military (MI) report which reveals Lt.Col .Prasad Srikant Purohit’s own admission that he and his Abhinav Bharat militant outfit targeted Christians in several places including MP, Maharashtra, Kandhamal and Karnataka.
According to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s statement the 2008 Malegaon blast main accused Lt. Col Shrikant Purohit met her a week after the attack and he told her he was into big things like blasts etc. She also alleged, he told her that he had masterminded the Orissa and Karnataka “disturbances” i.e. Kandhamal riots and attacks on churches in Mangalore. She also reportedly said he had also showed her rail tickets to prove his claims. However, the NIA has proof of an SMS sent by Lt. Col. Purohit to all his associates after the Sadhvi’s arrest, which said “Singh has sung…” implying her involvement in the Malegaon blast also and being part of the larger picture.

“Villian” Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit

The Army Intelligence report also mentions assistants of Lt. Col. Purohit like Sameer Kulkarni, a part of the military wing of Abhinav Bharat who is known to be involved in the IED blast in Ajmer in 2007. Police records confirm his involvement in anti-Christian riots in Pune, Jabalpur and Bhopal. Lt Col Purohit admitted that on behalf of Abhinav Bharat, Sameer killed two Christians in Orissa in August 2008. This act indicated that Lt Col Purohit wanted to establish an organisation with aggressive anti-Christian stance,” the MI report said.
The anti-Christian agenda of the extremist Hindutva outfits is clear from the Sadhvi’s statement and the MI report. Hence, it is imperative that the scope of the NIA investigations on Hindutva terror be widened to include the anti-Christian attacks in Orissa and Karnataka, where it has been on an unprecedented scale. The statements of Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. Purohit also expose the Hindutva brigade’s role in other states too – Pune in Maharashtra, Jabalpur and Bhopal in MP – to name a few. The game plan aims at crippling Christian religious places, property and institutions, besides eliminating its nascent community leadership at the grass roots.
The Union Government must act before its too late. The CSF has sent a memorandum to the prime minister and federal home minister calling for handing over of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka to the NIA as its brief is to counter terrorism in the country. The Sangh Parivar terror suspects include militants such as Indresh, Aseemanand, Col. Purohit, Dr. Praveen Togadia and others, who have since long been spewing venom and conducting hate pogroms against the minorities. There seems to be a clear nexus and synergy between elements of the Hindutva brigade, state machinery, lower judiciary, bureaucracy, criminals, corrupt, etc. especially in the BJP ruled states, where attacks against Christians have seen a rapid upswing.
The 2008 violence spread across 13 other districts of Orissa. In Kandhamal alone, more than 6,600 homes were destroyed, 56,000 people rendered homeless, thousands injured, and about 100 men and women burnt alive or hacked to death. Among the women raped was a Catholic nun. A BJP MLA continues to be free despite being accused of many crimes including murder and who has had his bail plea rejected by the Supreme Court. In Karnataka it was hundreds of Churches that were descecrated, Christians brutally beaten up, over 350 false cases foisted on Christians, property held by the community taken over and no relief to date received. All of which has been brought out by Justice Michael Saldanha in his independent peoples‘ enquiry report to counter the sham official report.

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Deep in Orissa village, thugs enforce economic boycott of Christians

Abp Cheenath SVD

KANDHAMAL,  (Dr John Dayal) – As Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, now on a farewell pastoral tour of Kandhamal, extols the courage, faith and perseverance of the Dalit Panos and Tribal Kondh Christians of the central Orissa district in the face of unceasing Hindutva pressure, deep in the villages, the economic boycott of Christians in enforced by organised gangs of fanatical thugs. The 77 year old Divine Word Society prelate of Orissa retires on 2nd April 2011.
Like Archbishop Alan De Lastic of Delhi who emerged the face and voice of the community in his unflinching challenge to persecution in the 1990s, Cheenath was the central figure in the legal and civil society challenge to mass arson, serial murders and gang rapes unleashed in 2007 and 2008 by members of the RSS, Adivasi Kalyan Ashram and Bajrang Dal, whose political identity was confirmed by Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik in the State Legislative Assembly.

In the past, stressing that justice and peace had to go together, the Archbishop moved the Supreme Court in 2008 when the arrogant Collector-cum-District Magistrate Dr Krishna Kumar banned the entry of Christian relief organisations to help the traumatised people. The Supreme Court ruled in the Archbishop’s, favour. He has moved the Supreme Court through the Human Rights Law Network on several issues, including a challenge to the Orissa High Court granting bail to a convicted murderer, Manoj Pradhan, on the plea the he was a legislator. The Supreme Court again ruled against the lower court.
Despite these heroic efforts, much remains the same in that heavily forested district as far as justice and state action is concerned. Br Markose, a Gabriel Brother from Ranchi now working at the grassroots, has been systematically reporting issues of economic boyctott an official apathy.
In an email to me yesterday, Br Markose narrated recent cases of vigilante decisions from Bodimunda where houses of Christians were destroyed in August 2008. Twice during 2009, the Christians tried to bring construction material such as sand to rebuild their houses. On both occasions, the sand was reloaded into the tractor and taken to the temple. The owners of tractor were fined before the vehicle was released by the hardcore Sangh cadres of the village.
After six months, due to the untiring efforts of activists, the villagers took courage to hire a tractor and bring sand. On 14th March this year, Pradeep Nayak hired a tractor from village Rudangia and brought two loads of sand. The next day, Joseph Nayak hired the tractor of Tileshwar Digal of village Breka. After making two trips, driver Ishak was stopped by a mob of about 12 persons led by Birendra Pradhan, stopped him and demanded a fine of Rs. 5051. The driver did not have the money. He left the tractor on the road and returned to the village.
Nabin Nayak and Bikram Nayak called Bro Markose on the phone who told them to immediately tell the police. Pastor Sunil Paricha called up the Superintendant of Police who referred him to the Tikabali police station. The Police cane to Bodimunda at night and the tractor was released. But the goons had taken away battery, jack and wrench from the tractor in lieu of fine. They told the driver that these materials would be returned when fine was paid. On 17th March a four-hour long meeting was held at Catholic Church of the village more than 60 Christian men and women participated. Finally they wrote a formal report to the police, saying they would see the matter through, come what may.

Complaints lodged before the police station in Kandhamal after the
Violence of 2008 — 3232
Cases registered — 831
Number of cases committed to the Fast track courts 1 & 2 — 277
Number of case Acquitted ( Violence case ) court No – 1 & 2 — 128
Number of case Convicted ( Violence case) court No – 1 & 2 — 59
Number of case pending trial (Violence case) court No – 1 & 2 — 44
Accused convicted so far –183
Accused acquitted so far — 639

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