Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Marxist-Leninist fact-finding report says 500 Christians killed in Orissa in August-September 2008 pogrom, cites government officer

[Marxism] MLIN [Nov.-Dec.08] ML International Newsletter, November-December 2008

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation international team

Liberation Magazine, November, 2008.

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Emails: [] and []

Orissa Pogrom

Fact-Finding Report on Kandhamal Situation

A Communist Party of India [CPI (ML)] fact-finding team visited Orissa's Kandhamal District on 15-16 October, 2008. The team visited affected villages and relief camps, after facing interrogation by the Orissa Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The team also met District Magistrate (DM) and various police officials of Kandhamal district. Below is a report by team member J P Minz.

1. The District Magistrate's (DM) Statement: The DM told us that Kandhamal had been peaceful for the preceding ten days. Whereas there used to be fifteen relief camps, now only seven were operational, having 12,641 people. According to him, breakfast, meals, supplementary food meant for children, and iron and calcium tablets for pregnant women are available in these camps; a doctor is available round the clock; books are available for children and there are
regular reading sessions. Blankets, sarees, buckets and mugs and similar essentials have also been provided.

2. Conditions at the Relief Camps: Our team visited Phulbani, Tikabali, Ji Udaygiri and Rakiya relief camps and found that the inmates of the camp are living in extremely bad conditions. In the
name of breakfast they get only fifty grams of chura (beaten rice) and rice-dal for meals, which is not enough to satisfy the needs of hunger and nutrition. In the name of supplementary food, the children are occasionally given biscuits. Bathing soaps have been distributed just
once in the camps. The doctors do visit but patients are told that there is no medicine. There is no arrangement for pregnant women. The camp inmates sleep on plastic mats on the ground. They have to defecate in the open, which apart from being unhygienic also puts them
in danger. One inmate of Ji Udaygiri camp, we were told, was killed when he had gone to defecate.

3. Role of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal: The victims in all the relief camps unanimously told the fact finding team that it is the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres who have sowed the seeds of communal division in the villages. They used to organize meetings of
the Kandha tribals and incite them to attack the Christian hamlets and also provided funds for doing this.

4. Role of the Police and Administration: The anti-Christian riots in Kandhamal started on the day of the bandh called by VHP after the murder of Swami Lakshmananad, and these riots continued for over a month. In the communal fire two hundred Christian villages and 127
Church and prayer halls were either destroyed or burnt. Apart from this, schools, hospitals, hostels and convents also have been damaged. The incidents of killings, rape and loot also were carried out in addition to former incidents. The shocking fact is that all these
incidents took place in full view of police and the police remained mute spectators.

The official figure for deaths has been reported to be 31, however, a senior government official on the condition of anonymity informed that he himself consigned two hundred dead bodies - found from the jungle - to flames after getting them collected in a tractor. As per his
estimates based on the intensity and pace of killings the number of those killed is over five hundred.

5. Atmosphere of Terror: The Christians continue to experience great terror. The Sangh outfits are campaigning for sending back the CRPF and the Nikhil Utkal Kui community is threatening to launch an armed movement. Riot-victims are frightened to go back to their villages
because they have been threatened that if they return they will be hacked into pieces. The rioters are also proclaiming that only Hindu converts will be allowed to return. On the other hand, those in charge of the relief camps are pressurizing the riot victims to return to
their villages saying that the life has returned to normalcy and peace has returned.


1. This violence was a pre-planned anti-Christian communal assault, and in no way was it a 'clash' between adivasi (tribals) and dalits.

2. This violence which had full support from the Biju Janta Dal
Government was planned and executed by VHP and Bajrang Dal.

3. The Sangh's propaganda about 'indiscriminate religious conversion' is a far cry from facts, as the Christian population of Orissa is only 2.5 per cent of the total population. It is to be noted that Christian missionaries began working in Orissa 150 years back.

4. Dalits have far less proportion of land in comparison to the Kandha tribals. In Kandhamal 90 per cent land is government land, 5.5 percent belongs to tribals and rest 4.5 per cent belongs to Dalits, OBC and Oriya (businessmen). There is not much difference in the economic
conditions of the tribals and the dalits. The dalits are very slightly better off as they engage in small businesses.

Our Demands:

1. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (BD) should be banned.

2. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the violence should
tender his resignation immediately

3. The accused for the riots be immediately arrested.

4. The Orissa Govt. must reconstruct all houses, churches, schools, hostels, hospitals and other social-religious structures demolished during the violence and for other damages adequate compensation be granted after a proper survey

5. The relief camps be run for another six months and proper civic arrangements for food, medicine and sanitation be made in these camps.

6. Arrangements be made for registering First Information Reports (FIRs) related to the communal violence at all police stations.

7. Peace process be initiated and guarantees be made for reopening and running of schools, hospitals and other institutes run by the Christian missionaries.

Orissa Pogrom

United Protests: South Orissa Bandh by CPI (ML) and Other Parties Liberation, November, 2008.

On 13th October CPI (ML) Liberation along with four other parties – CPI (ML) New Democracy (ND), Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) [CPI (ML)], Socialist Unity Center of India (SUCI) and Samajwadi Jan Parishad held a successful bandh in five districts of South Orissa - Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati, Koraput and Ganjam – against the carnage in Kandhamal, the complicity of the Navin Patnaik Government and the criminal inaction of the Congress-led UPA
Government at the Centre. The bandh was total in the five districts and marked by the spontaneous participation of people. Around 10, 000 people actively participated in Liberation's initiatives to make the bandh a success in Rayagada; 1200 in Gajapati.

Holding that the ruling BJD as well as Congress which is in power at the Centre too have blood on their hands because of their hands-off approach towards the Sangh Parivar mobs, the CPI (ML) had declined to join a joint protest announced by Communist Party of India (CPI) and
the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] with Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Congress party in the state.

In Bhubaneswar, trains were stopped and the National Highway blocked by 200 Liberation activists. Comrade Tirupati Gomango held a rally of around 8000 people at Gunupur. The bandh sent out a stern political message rejecting the communal violence against thousands of
Christians by the Sangh outfits and condemning the forces in power which are allowing the violence to take place unhindered.

CPI (ML) Liberation's Nation Wide Protests

On October 3, CPI (ML) held nation-wide protests demanding prosecution of Chief Ministers of Orissa and Karnataka for allowing saffron mobs to indulge in an anti-Christian pogrom; demanding a ban on the Sangh outfits guilty of communal violence and protesting against the UPA Government's refusal to take stern action against the communal
killers. A memorandum to the President of India was submitted from all over the country. The memorandum, raising all the above issues and demands, also noted that the Sangh's accusations of 'forced conversion' was actually serving to cover up their own acts of forcing
adivasis and Christians to convert to Hinduism. Conversion from Hinduism has largely been an act of rebellion by the oppressed castes against the caste-ridden Hindu fold, noted the memo, and "the current wave of violence is therefore also an attempt to terrorise the Dalits and other oppressed social groups for their rebellion – and is therefore acontinuation of social oppression in another form." The acts of humiliation of Christians that have come to light – raping,
parading naked, and forcing to eat excreta as 'purification' ritual – are all reminiscent of the atrocities against Dalits.

The party also noted the increasing incidents of communal violence in Dhule (Maharashtra) and Adilabad (Andhra Pradesh), in which the minority community bore the brunt of the attacks. Also, it condemned the Tarun Gogoi Government for allowing the Bodo-Muslim clashes to
take place, which had resulted in thousands of people being driven into refugee camps.

In Delhi, activists of CPI (ML) gathered at Parliament Street and burnt an effigy of Navin Patnaik and Yeddyurappa, and submitted a memorandum to the President.

In Karnataka, another major centre of the ongoing communal violence, protest demonstrations were held in various places in the state, and the memorandum to the President was sent through the tahsildars in the taluks. More than hundred people protested in front of taluk office at Harapanahalli. The demo evoked much expectation in the town as a
church near Harapanahalli was also attacked sometime back. Our comrades had helped in getting bail for the Christian priests, on whom false cases had been foisted in addition to the attack on their church. The demo at Gangavati was also impressive and demonstrators
shouted slogans against BJP that is coming out with its true colours after assuming power in the state. The demo at HD Kote near Mysore protestors included construction labourers and All India Central Coordination of Trade Unions (AICCTU) activists.

In Jharkhand, hundreds of people marched in the capital of Ranchi. The March against Communalism, in the Sainik Bazaar campus, was led by CPI (ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar. The March culminated in a mass meeting at Albert Ekka Chowk, addressed by many leaders. Protest processions, effigy burning, dharnas and mass meetings were also held
at various district headquarters (HQs) in Jharkhand; Bihar; Assam and Karbi Anglong; UP; W. Bengal, Tamilnadu, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Durg.

All India Progressive Womens Association (AIPWA) between 10-14 October, held protests and submitted a memorandum to the President of India demanding ban on the Sangh outfits Bajrang Dal and VHP responsible for assaults on Christians, and a Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) probe into the rape of a nun in Orissa.