Tag Archives: Kandhamal

Listen to the sigh from Kandhamal

By Abdul Nasar Maudany, 16 August, 2014, Countercurrents.org

Abdul Maudani

Abdul Nasar Maudani

When Babari Masjid was demolished several innocent Muslims were attacked, houses were destroyed, looted and burnt and women were raped. While questioning the injustice done to my Muslim brothers and sister, I responded with a statement at that time in many public places that `even if a thousand mosques are demolished, not even a fistful sand from a temple should be lifted, my children!’ But they put me behind bars with fabricated cases in jail in Coimbatore without even a trial for nine and a half years. When the judge finally concluded that I was innocent and I was released, they were not satisfied. More fabricated charges came against me and I have been spending my time in Parappana Agrahara Jail in Bangalore for the last four years and I had to pursue legal action even for my basic health care as a citizen of this country. On the 17th of August, I will be completing four years as an under trial prisoner. I am fully aware that all those love me and respect me will remember this date.

Kandhamal woman holding on to the symbols of her faith

Kandhamal woman holding on to the symbols of her faith

I am only one among those who are suffering in Indian jails as an under trial with fabricated cases. There are thousands of others who can not even express their voices. In Kandhamal over 300 churches and worship places were attacked, over 6,000 houses were destroyed, burnt and looted, over 56,000 people were displaced, over 100 people were killed and women were raped. All the victims belong to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians. Those who conducted the crimes are not punished and several innocent people are being punished. Even the draconian law named Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) which is used against me is being used against many innocent people who are involved with the human rights issues of Kandhamal. Sitting here in Bangalore, I can hear the sigh of my Adivasi Christian and Dalit Christian brothers from Kandhamal appealing for justice for the victims and survivors. On August 25, 2014, this sigh will be heard more widely all over the country with many groups giving a call for the observation of Kandhamal Day. I appeal to all my supporters, friends and brothers listen to the sigh from Kandhamal and observe the Kandhamal Day on August 25th. Together, let us pray to build a nation without communal hatred, a nation based on justice, peace and harmony.

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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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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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Rape as a weapon

While going through the latest ‘tale of two rapes’, I thought I should share my finding ‘Rape as a weapon’ andPregnant mothers and infants pay a heavy price’ (from my forthcoming international book on Kandhamal. The info may be shocking. But that is the sad reality of Kandhamal. Anto Akkara

Rape as a weapon

Sexual violence against women has been used as a weapon in areas of ethnic oppression and conflict. Kandhamal was no exception.

“There are several other reports of sexual assault and molestation and it is highly likely that many other such cases have gone unreported due to the shame attached,” warned the study ‘Genocide in Kandhamal’ by the Human Rights Law Network. The legal action group in its study released before the end of 2008 – one of the first studies on the Kandhamal carnage and mayhem – expressed this fear after elaborating on the rape of the young Catholic nun in public. (For raped nun, Jesus is ‘alive on the Cross’ on page 48.)

“Once termed ‘a fate worse than death’ the future of a raped a woman is one of isolation and stigma even amongst her own community and sympathisers.”[1]

The fear expressed by ‘Genocide in Kandhamal’ report was confirmed by the ‘Study of the Conditions of Women Affected by Communal Violence in Kandhamal District, Orissa, by the Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work in Mumbai, in 2009. The study confirmed at least 16 more rapes during the anti-Christian violence apart from the three rapes that have been recounted in this book: rape of Priyatama Digal (Go to Cost of faith – sadistic killing of Christians on page 22), Rajani Mahji who was gangraped and torched alive (Go to Miraculous survival of priest from torched alive on page 34) and the rape of the Catholic nun. (Go to For raped nun, Jesus is ‘alive on the Cross’ on page 48.)

These 16 rapes came to light from the random survey conducted by the Nirmala Niketan students among 355 women from 68 of the 415 villages that were affected by the violence. This study also pointed out that “it is highly likely that many other such cases have gone unreported due to the shame attached (to rape).”

On the ‘physical and sexual abuse of women and young girls’, the Nirmala Niketan report said: “A lack of security meant that they were beaten up, threatened and verbally abused by the men, they were harassed while filling water, younger girls were sexually exploited by policemen while they were bathing and nuns were harassed. Two instances of rape of girls were mentioned. In one case the girl, currently in hospital, attempted suicide by burning herself and the other girl had become pregnant after being raped and the police were trying to take advantage of her.”[2]

Among 60 women respondents who were interviewed by the research team of Department of Outreach, LoyolaCollege in Chennai, at least two women confirmed that they had been gangraped while 10 women indicated that they were sexually violated.[3]

But sadly, except for the rape of the young Catholic nun in the presence of a mob and the rape of the Hindu girl, that is narrated next, no rape case has been registered with the police as the victims dreaded being branded as a ‘rape victim’.

Pregnant mothers and infants pay a heavy price

The expulsion of the Christians from their native villages in Kandhamal led to another silent tragedy.  If over a hundred Christians had perished in the orchestrated violence, many more young lives were snuffed out as a result of the massive displacement.

Kandhamal’s Forgotten Children’, a study by Haq – a child rights group based in New Delhi, brought out this silent tragedy that unfolded in Kandhamal due to thousands of Christian families languishing in dingy refugee camps and in no-man’s areas on empty stomachs.

The sudden spurt in stillbirths, witnessed in Kandhamal, was the outcome of the distress pregnant women underwent during months of fleeing and malnourishment in the refugee camps.

There were also dozens of cases of miscarriages, premature deliveries, forced abortions and even deaths of two pregnant women in the refugee camps as no assistance was available to pregnant women during delivery in the refugee camps.

From stillbirths to infant mortality rate, the figures shot up in Kandhamal as a result of displacement of 56,000 Christians who were rendered homeless in the orchestrated violence and had to take shelter in dingy refugee camps.

Infant deaths shot up suddenly from 603 in 2007-8 to 837 in 2008-9 – an increase of 234 during the period. The fact that this figure declined to 750 in 2009-10 further confirmed that infants had to pay a heavy price – perhaps much higher than the adults as a result of the orchestrated violence.

The IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) in Nuagam block – one of the worst affected areas – also shot up from 37 in 2007 to 88 in 2008.

The sharp deterioration in child health status in Kandhamal following the violence, the study pointed out, was in areas worst affected and rooted in the widespread violence and displacement.[5]

This debilitating impact of the anti-Christian violence on the infants also fetched another ignominy for Kandhamal as the district with the highest under-five child mortality rate in the country. For every 1,000 children born in the district, 145 died before the age of five, declared the Annual Health Survey Bulletin of India that was released in August 2011.


[1]Genocide in Kandhamal’, page 9
[2]Study of the Conditions of Women Affected by Communal Violence in Kandhamal District, Orissa’, page  83
[3]  Loyola College Study 2 on Kandhamal – Impact on Women, page  64
[4] ‘Waiting for Justice – a  report of National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal’, pages 66-67
[5] ‘Kandhamal’s Forgotten Children’, page 32

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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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Indian Christian Martyrs Day Celebrations on 26th August

BHOPAL, (Anand Muttungal) We would like to bring to your kind attention that the Isai Mahasagh (Madhya Pradesh) had initiated a programme four years back to remember the yeomen sacrifice made by our Christian brethren all over India. St. Thomas, the Apostle of India is the first martyr of India, from then on there are many Christians who sacrificed their lives for the sake of faith.

We keep remembering them but the greatest sacrifice made by the Christians of Odisha, particularly the believers of Khandmal district is ever to be remembered. The number of people embraced death for the sake of faith is over fifty, so we decided to commemorate this event on the last Sunday of August. It is in the month of August 2008 most number of believers faced death and suffering. Every Sunday Christians gather all over the world for prayer so it will be fitting to remember and pray for those Christians.

We must also remember those Christians who are living like a monument of faith facing all the sufferings. It is the case of Christians in different some parts of this Country. So the Indian Christian martyrs day is not just to remember and pray for the believers who embraced death but also those Christians who are facing suffering and threat due to their faith in Lord Jesus Christ.

We can remember all those believers from the time of St. Thomas till date. We can offer Holy Eucharist for them or special services also can be organized for them. We also request you all to organize blood donation camps to remember sacrifice of the Christian martyrs. We want to send a message to people that the blood of Christian believers can give life to many. We, the Isai Mahasangh members will be organizing special prayer services for the Indian Christian Martyrs in Madhya Pradesh.

We believe that each person forwarding this appeal and encouraging peoples and organizations to pray for the Indian Christian Martyrs are joining the suffering Christian believers in India and you are becoming part of a chain of network that pray for Christians. We appeal to Churches and organizations to partake in this initiative. So kindly forward this E- mail to all Christians.

Fr. Anand Muttungal, Chief Coordinator
Sujit William , President
Jerry Paul, General Secretary
Isai Mahasangh, Madhya Pradesh
www.isaimahasangh.in

Head Office
Isai Mahasangh
38-Patrakar Colony
Link Road No.3, Bhopal-462003, M.P
0755-4093255
isaimahasangh@gmail.com
mp.christian@yahoo.com

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