Victims of anti-Christian violence in Orissa welcome court order

Church people and activists in Orissa are pleased with the Indian Supreme Court directive ordering a report by the Indian National Commission for Human Rights into the Orissa government’s response to the wave of anti-Christian persecution.

Fides details the significant level of anti-Christian violence in Orissa

  • 230 damaged or demolished churches and chapels
  • 100 deaths
  • 54,000 people in 415 villages were made homeless
  • at least 6,000 cases of houses burned and destroyed
  • out of 3,232 cases of violence reported to the police, 828 were officially registered
  • 327 of the 828 registered cases ended with a court case
  • the lower courts acquitted 639
  • only 19 trials for murder ended in a conviction
  • 1,597 militants were well identified and then cleared
  • thousand’s of other attackers have not even been contacted by the police.

The court also criticised the Orissa government for its poor handling of relief and rehabilitation efforts, comments echoed by Orissa’s leading bishop, Archbishop John Barawa.

“The government has failed miserably in all the rehabilitation activities,” Barawa said.

Bipra Charan Nayak, convener of the Survivors Association of Kandhamal Violence however welcomed the court order as a way to help restore things to the way it was before the violence broke.

Father Manoj Kumar Nayak, who directs the archdiocese’s social service centre, said the Church has petitioned the government several times about property destroyed in the violence, but has yet to receive any compensation, however hopes the NHRC report would address the Church’s concerns.

“We hope the NHRC will look into our case as well as all the other Kandhamal victims,” he said.

Lan Singh Rongmei, a Supreme Court lawyer assisting the victims, said they expect the NHRC would submit a fair and independent assessment.

The Indian Bishops recently concluded their ‘ad limina’ visit, briefing the Pope on the level of anti-christian persecution in their country.



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