Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Missionaries beaten up in Karnataka

Five evangelists belonging to Friends Missionary Prayer Band were arrested allegedly for engaging in activities aiming to forcibly convert people in Kolar district, southern Karnataka.
The Christians were arrested from Nangali village of Kolar’s Mulabagilu Taluk, according to All India Christian Council (AICC). It said the the missioners were at a church construction site Nov. 24 afternoon, when the arrest took place.
AICC quoting its officials said a 30-strong group of Hindu activists surrounded the church construction site and dragged the five preachers to a local police station, accusing them of engaging in conversion activities.
AICC’s southern India general secretary Kumar Swami led a team of people to tell the police that the charges on the five were false. The missionaries were released the next day without any charges registered against them, according to SAR News.
In an another incident, Hindu fanatics numbering 30-35 caught hold of four Bible school students belonging to the International Cultural College of Studies, who were at a cultural exposure program in Madhugiri, Karnataka, Nov. 24.
According to sources, they were first threatened to leave the place or face dire consequences. Later, the miscreants dragged the four students to the local police station. The police provided protection to the students but they detained them at the police station for 24 hours for interrogation.
According to AICC around 30 people protested against the media team at Madhugiri. They surrounded the team and questioned them about their activities in the area. They also asked the team to leave the place immediately and threatened to harm them if they chose to continue in the area.

Click here for source

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sangh Parivar was responsible for Orissa violence – Orissa CM

Bhubaneswar: Members of the Sangh parivar were involved in the communal violence in Kandhamal which claimed at least 38 lives besides causing damage to 4640 houses, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Monday.

"It is learnt from investigation into the riot cases that the members of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal were involved in the violence that took place last year," Patnaik told the Assembly while replying to a question by a CPI member.

Sangh Parivar activists were arrested in this connection. Of them 85 were of the RSS and 321 members of VHP were rounded up on charge of riot. The number of Bajrang Dal workers arrested on charge of violence was 118, he said.

At least 27 persons allegedly involved in the riots were still in jails, the Chief Minister said.
He said house damage and house burning incidents were reported from at least 13 police station areas in Kandhama

To another question, Patnaik said the commission of inquiry probing the violence in Kandhamal after the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati had so far received affidavits of 383 persons and examined at least 34 government officials.

Click here for source

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christian couple beaten in Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh

Attackers threw one year old infant on the ground

November 19, 2009

Raipur (CPINDIA) – Suspected Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena workers disrupted a Church service and beat up the Pastor, his wife and another believer in Fuka Girola, Kondagaon Block, Bastar District, Chhattisgarh on November 15, 2009.

According to reports, about 50 Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena members stormed the Church service being held in the village shouting loud slogans. They accused the Christians present of forceful conversions and picked up a man identified only as Dhanshu and beat him up. Dhanshu is said to be 34 years old and had his left year bleeding because of the beating that he received at the hands of the attackers.

When he was being beaten up, the Pastor, Anjan Kumar Netam, 35years, tried to resolve the matter peacefully but instead invited the wrath of the attackers who beat him up instead. They tore his clothes, took away his gold chain and Rupees 3000 from his purse.

When his wife Sonam, 30 years, tried to intervene she too was slapped and beaten.

Not only this, in a display of a complete lack of humanness, the attackers snatched the one year old baby boy of the Pastor from Sonam and threw him on the side.

The attackers were led by Ashutosh Pandey, the secretary of the Bajrang Dal, who also filed a complaint against the Pastor and other believers in the Kondagaon police station.

Pastor Kumar was admitted in the RNT hospital at Kondagaon for treatment of his injuries. The police only filed his FIR 5 days after the incident.

Church attacked again in Karnataka, Sources say it is the 56th case in 2009

Bangalore (CPINDIA) – Beersheba Church of God was the latest Church to bear the wrath of the Hindutva brigade. According to reports, a group of unknown assailants attacked the Church on the night of 17th November. They broke into the Church at about 3:00 am and created havoc. The attackers broke the furniture, demolished doors, broke windows, and even removed the cross from the top of the building.

Chandrapa Devdas, the priest who leads the Church, informed the police and briefed the local media about the incident. The police Commissioner Mr. N Sathish Kumar assured the members of the Christian community of “prompt investigation” and action within 3 days.

According to GCIC, the latest attack on the Church in Humanabad brings the tally of attacks against Churches in Karnataka at 56. On November 12, 2009 another Church was attacked at Shimoga by VHP workers.

Sajan George, the president of the GCIC told the media: "The government is failing in its duty to protect Christian minorities and keep at bay the Hindu radicals .... The chain of political acquittals of the BJP, Manoj Pradhan, one of the main instigators of the violence in Kandhamal, has made it clear to fundamentalists that they can get away with anything, without having to face justice".

Karnataka Church denounces 'moral policing'

MANGALORE, India : The Catholic Church in Karnataka state has condemned recurrent attacks by Hindu extremists on youths from different religions socializing together.
"Why can't boys and girls from different religious communities have healthy interaction?" asks a statement the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops' Council (KRCBC) issued on Nov. 20.
The statement, signed by council secretary Father Faustine Lobo, "unequivocally" condemns "moral policing" by "fundamentalist outfits," which it says has frightened people in the southern state.
The statement accuses Karnataka's pro-Hindu government of "misguiding" the assailants to impose their own outdated moral principles on others. The Bharatiya Janata Party has governed the state since May 2008.
The attackers, many identified with the group Bajrang Dal (party of the strong and stout), have created fear and hatred among people, especially on the state's western coast, according to the KRCBC.
Karnataka has witnessed 12 such incidents in the past year, eight of them reported from Mangalore, a major coastal town.
In the latest incident on Nov. 15, a mob assaulted three Muslim youths traveling on a bus with two Hindu girls. The five had traveled to Mangalore to attend a sports selection camp, but the attackers accused the boys of "moving closely" with the girls.
This "moral policing" came to the fore last Jan. 25, when members of Sri Ram Sene (army of Lord Ram), another Hindu radical group, attacked eight women having lunch in a Mangalore pub. Women in India traditionally stay away from bars and liquor shops, and the attackers accused their victims of corrupting Hindu culture.
Just two weeks later on Feb. 11, a 16-year-old Hindu girl committed suicide the day after extremists publicly humiliated her for being "friendly" with a Muslim boy and handed the pair to police.
"Who has given them power to safeguard girls from interacting with boys from minority communities?" the Catholic bishops ask.
Their statement says the Hindu groups want only to divide people on the basis of religion for political gain.
Karnataka has close to 53 million people, and nearly 84 percent are Hindus. Muslims constitute about 12 percent, while Christians make up less than 2 percent.
The KRCBC said the world is watching as the majority group rides roughshod over the rights of minorities, while "the police and the government are apathetic to the victims' pleas."
The bishops also approved the forming of people's vigilant committees to prevent such moral policing. "The Church is ready to join such initiatives to establish peace and harmony in society," they said.
Denis D'Silva, a former state president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement, welcomed the bishops' move. "If we do not react against moral policing we would be promoting it," he said.

Click here for source

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nine Convicted, 5 Acquitted, Manoj Pradhan, the mastermind of the Orissa violence on a fast track to acquittals

November 19, 2009, Bhubaneshwar (CPINDIA) - Nine persons were convicted and sentenced for four years rigorous imprisonments for their role in the Kandhamal anti-Christian violence of 2008.

A fast track court at Phulbani sentenced the nine, while acquitting 5 persons including Manoj Pradhan, the BJP legislator, who is allegedly believed to be the master mind of the violence in Kandhamal.

Manoj Pradhan has been let off for a fourth time by the fast track court due to lack of evidence.

The case pertained to an incident of house burning. Speaking to the media public prosecutor P.K. Patra said, "Nine people have been convicted and five have been acquitted in the case. They were accused of torching the house of Ratha Nayak of Mlahupanga village under Raikia Police Station area in Kandhamal district on Aug 27, 2008. The acquitted includes Manoj Pradhan, the legislator from G Udayagiri in Kandhamal,"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pastor attacked in Central India

Mastoori Town, 25 October 2009:

About 11 masked men brutally attacked a 28-year-old pastor in Mastoori town, 15 kilometers from Bilaspur Railway Station at around 1:30 p.m. today, 25 Oct 2009. They beat him with hockey sticks and wooden sticks and their fists.

The Sunday worship service of the Beersheba Church of God concluded at 12:00 a.m. as usual. Pastor Pavithra Kumar (28) was approached by a young man enquiring about a boy. When the pastor said that he knew no such person, the young man left. But he returned with 10 masked men who came on six bikes. They called Pastor Pavithra out and then attacked him with wooden sticks, hockey sticks and their fists. When the pastor tried to run back inside the church, a woman from the church got caught in the middle and was injured. They closed the door onto their attackers. The men then threatened the pastor and the believers from outside and left the scene.

Pastor Pavithra has been injured badly especially on his hands, chest, back and head.

The pastor and believers went t the Mastoori Police Station to file an FIR when the policeman in-charge refused to file a report saying they had no knowledge of a church being run. After much persuasion the police filed the FIR and is at the church right now investigating the matter and questioning the believers and Pastor Pavithra.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Police identify Kandhmal blast victim, unsure of Maoist link

Phulbani (Orissa), Sept 29 (PTI) The person, who was killed in a bomb explosion three days ago at a rehabilitation centre for riot victims in Kandhamal district, has been identified, the police said today.
The victim was identified as Ajaya Digal (35) of nearby Gutingia village under Sarangagada police station in the district, Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said.
A senior police official said that his antecedents and whether he had link with Maoists were being inquired into as he had left his village in March.
Digal's parents were also being questioned, he said.


Three detained for blasts in Kandhamal

Phulbani (Orissa), Sept 28 (PTI) Three persons were detained today for interrogation in connection with the bomb blast at a rehabilitation centre in Kandhamal district which left one dead.
They were being interrogated for their suspected Maoist links, Kandhamal SP Praveen Kumar said.
Seizure of four guns from the site of the blast led to the suspicion that they had Maoist links, he said.
The identity of the person killed in the explosion yesterday has not been ascertained so far, while the injured has been identified as Patrasen Mallick of Batikola village.
The person who died in the blast did not belong to Batikola village and had arrived at the rehabilitation centre at Nandagiri barely five days ago, he said.
A forensic team visited the spot to determine the nature of the explosive used in making the bomb.


Relief camp blast kills one

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 29: For the second day today, police and forensic experts continued with their investigation into the bomb blast at a relief camp in Kandhamal that left one dead and two injured on Sunday.

A police team, led by Kandhamal superintendent of police Praveen Kumar, is carrying out probe into the incident that is suspected to have Maoist links. Inspector-general of police (law and order) Arun Sarangi has also arrived there.

While the identity of the deceased is yet to be known, the two injured — Anthony Malick and Patrasa Malick — are undergoing treatment at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur.

“We have already conducted autopsy of the deceased,” Kumar said, adding that the forensic team had collected samples to determine the nature of explosives used in making the bomb.

About 162 people at the relief camp have fled into the forest, fearing arrest.

The mishap took place at Nandagiri relief camp under G. Udayagiri police station in Kandhamal district after a crude bomb being prepared at the centre went off.

The duo were first rushed to G. Udayagiri primary health centre and later shifted to the MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur after their condition worsened.

Three persons were detained and four guns were recovered. “The persons are being interrogated,” said Rajkumar Murmu, the officer in charge of G. Udayagiri police station.

Click here for source

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life imprisonment to 5 in Pastor murder case in Kandhamal, Orissa

Five youths were today sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court for killing a pastor during riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district last year.

Fast Track Court-I judge S K Das awarded life term to Sabito Digal (30), Mania Pradhan (28), Dharmaraj Pradhan (32), Abinash Pradhan (29) and Papu Pradhan (30) for the murder of Akbar Digal, a pastor of a Baptist church at Tatamaha village under Raikia police station area.

Digal's throat was slit by the youths in presence of his wife Lodia Digal on August 26, 2008, barely two days after riots broke out in the aftermath of VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati's killing.

The five persons were arrested on an FIR lodged by the pastor's wife.

Click here for source

Five awarded life term in Kandhamal riots case

Phulbani (Kandhamal), Sept 23: A fast-track court here on Wednesday sentenced five youths to life imprisonment for killing a Pastor during the last year's communal riots in Odisha's Kandhamal district.

Those who were awarded life imprisonment by Judge of the fast-track Court-I S. K. Das were Sabito Digal(30), Mania Pradhan(28), Dharmaraj Pradhan(32), Abinash Pradhan(29) and Papu Pradhan(30).

The Judge also imposed a fine of Rs. 5,000 each on the convicts.

The convicts had killed Pastor Akbar Digal by slitting his throat at Tatamaha village under Raikia police station in Kandhamal district.

The Pastor was killed on August 26 when Christian families and their houses were attacked in the aftermath of the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxamanananda.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Panel for amendment to Christian divorce law

The Law Commission has recommended to the Union government to amend the law to empower a deserted Christian woman to file a petition to divorce her NRI husband, which otherwise is barred in the existing Act enacted during the British rule 150 years ago.

In its report, Law Commission chairman A R Laxmanan said: “The Law Commission has come to the conclusion that Section 2 of the Divorce Act, 1869, insofar as it concerns the jurisdictional rule in regard to petitions for divorce, is not only not in tune with the present times but is also harsh upon Christian women in India.”
According to the Act enacted by the then British government, a deserted Christian woman does not have the right to file a petition before a family court in India seeking dissolution of her marriage if her husband has taken the citizenship of another country and also a domicile of a foreign country.
The Indian courts should also be given the right to decide on the dissolution of the marriages of Christian couples solemnised abroad, the Commission said. In the report submitted to Union law minister Veerappa Moily, Justice Laxmanan suggested that the law should be amended in order to entitle the Indian courts to entertain a petition for dissolution of a Christian marriage where either of the parties is domiciled in India at the time of presenting the divorce petition.
The Indian law does not confer jurisdiction on family courts to dissolve Christian marriages of non-domiciled couples. Further, in determining the domicile of the parties in a proceeding for dissolution of a marriage, it is the domicile of the man alone which is to be considered since a woman takes the domicile of her husband upon marriage.
Due to this law, many Christian women in India are unable to approach the court, despite being deserted by their husbands living abroad. The Centre had referred the ruling of the Madras High Court in the Indira Rachel vs Union of India to the Law Commission for suitable suggestion, leading to an amendment in the law.
Indira Rachel had filed a petition before the Madras High Court in 1995 seeking direction to allow her to file a petition for divorce from her husband Andrew Solomon Raj, who was then working as assistant supervisor with the Bank of Kuwait and Middle East in Kuwait.
However, before the court could decide on the matter, Raj died, making the petition infructous.
In the suggestion to the government, the high court said:“Therefore, according to us, such provision should be interpreted to mean that the courts in India shall be entitled to entertain petition for dissolution of marriage where either of the parties has domiciled in India at the time when the petition is presented.”

Click here for source

Fast track court sentenced six persons to three-year RI

Phulbani ( Orissa ) : Six persons have been awarded rigorous punishment and Rs 4,000 fine for their involvement in the Kandhamal violence that rocked entire nation.
This was the third conviction by the court in riot cases.
A fast track court at Phulbani on Tuesday however acquitted five other accused for lack of evidence.
The fast-track court in Kandhamal was hearing a case relating to the torching of a house.
Earlier on September 7, Phulbani fast-track court sentenced six people to four-year jail terms each for their involvement in Kandhamal violence last year.
The Government has set up two fast-track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.

Click here for source

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kandhamal Conversions: Only two recorded in the official register

Bhubaneswar, Sept 16 Conversion cases in Kandhamal between 2004-2007 far exceeded the official records of just two, the judicial commission probing last year's riots in the district was told today.
"There were many cases of conversions but few intimated the district administration," former Kandhamal district magistrate cum collector Gangadhar Singh told the Justice S C Mahapatra Commission probing the largescale communal violence that followed the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati.
Refusing to comment on whether conversion was a cause of violence in Kandhamal last year, Singh who was the DM of Kandhamal from September 15, 2004 to October 3, 2007, said during cross-examination that though there was a register at the collector's office recording cases of conversion, only two intimations regarding conversion were registered in the district in January, 2004.
"The statutory provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA) were not followed", he said, adding that there were no prosecutions as no complaint had been made against conversion, he said.
The census figure, on the other hand, showed rise in the size of population of all religious groups in Kandhamal, he said.

Click here for source

Conversions took place against law

BHUBANESWAR: Former district collector of Kandhamal Gangadhar Singh on Wednesday said religious conversions had taken place in the southern Orissa district without following the statutory provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA), 1967.
Singh, while appearing before the one-man judicial commission, headed by retired Justice Sarat Chandra Mohapatra, informed that till January 2, 2004, the district administration had received only two intimations of change in religion. But conversions without following the provisions of OFRA had taken place, he added, though he refused to agree that such conversions were "large-scale" in nature.
Singh, who was the Kandhamal collector from September 15, 2004, to October 3, 2007, disclosed that during his tenure no prosecution was sanctioned under OFRA. Replying to a query during cross-examination, he said there was widespread encroachment of government land, including forest patches, in the district, but he had not inquired into whether any church was constructed on such encroached land.
Singh, who also submitted an affidavit to the commission, also revealed that as collector he had received oral complaints relating to transportation of cows. Singh, who is presently serving as additional secretary, higher education, said during his tenure as collector there were cases of issue of caste certificates to persons not eligible. But he denied there had been large-scale issue of such "fake" caste certificates.
"During my period the caste certificate issue had not invited law and order situation," he said. He further observed that the demand of the Phulbani Jana Kalyan Sangha, an association formed by some Panas (a SC group), in August 2007, for change of their status to Kui (a ST group) had created serious apprehensions among tribals. "On account of this apprehension some tribal organizations formed a coordinating body, Kui Samaj Coordination Committee, and held rallies and processions in different parts of Kandhamal and submitted memoranda to Governor and chief minister challenging the claims of non-tribals to be recorded as Kui. Because of this, ill-feeling grew among the tribals and non-tribals," he said.
Earlier in the day, inspector general of police Arun Sarangi stuck to his stand that the state police headquarters was not aware of any Maoist threat to Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati (whose murder on August 23, 2008, had triggered ethno-communal carnage in Kandhamal), but stated that "from the report of SP, Kandhamal, and information gathered by me during my visit to Shankaracharya Kanyashram, Jalespeta, after the incident and from other intelligence inputs, it is absolutely clear that the assassination was the work of the CPI (Maoist) cadres."

Click here for source

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Christian meeting held in Karnataka on Human Rights

BANGALORE: Born last year against the backdrop of attacks on churches and church staff, the Karnataka United Christian Federation for Human Rights (KUCFHR) met on Wednesday at the conference hall of the CSI Bishop’s house on Mission Road.

Archbishop Bernard Moras, KUCFHR president, said, “The federation is a common forum for fellowship and dialogue and for collaboration in common concerns particularly of human rights among Christian communities, as also of other minority communities in Karnataka.” He said CSI, Catholic and Methodist bishops, and heads of many other denominations had already claimed that they did not indulge in forcible conversions or denigrate other religions. But KUCFHR would assert Christians’ right to practice the faith without violating the IPC or the Constitution. It would also work towards removing unwarranted or deliberately created animosity against Christians.

Click here for source

There are no forced conversions

BANGALORE: Bangalore archbishop Bernard Moras has said there has never been a single case of forced or induced conversion by Christians.
Moras was speaking at a meeting of the Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights on Wednesday. The forum, representing the `right of all communities to co-exist peacefully', aims to bring together Christians of different denominations under one roof. Wednesday's meeting was attended by bishops from Bellary, Gulbarga, Karwar, Mangalore, Chikmagalur and other cities.
Moras said the meeting was convened to remind the forum that it had to protect human rights, irrespective of religion. "There are accusations of forced conversions against the community. Let me tell you we cannot convert people like that. We respect all religions and don't convert people either through aggression or enticement. The accusations are wrong," Moras said, explaining that the forum's role is to protect the community when such accusations come up.
"We ourselves have differences of opinion. We should be clear about what stand we should take regarding our community and how we should interact with other communities. We should have common ethics and actions though we have different interpretations of the scriptures," he added.
Bishops of Believers church, Methodist church, Catholic church, CSI church, Jacobite church and members of the Federation of Christian Churches Organisation were present.

Click here for source

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Six sentenced in connection with Orissa violence

Phulbani (Orissa), Sept 7 (PTI) At least six persons including five tribals were today sentenced to four-year's imprisonment and slapped a penalty of Rs 2,000 each after they were convicted in the Kandhamal riot case by a local court.
Additional sessions judge S K Das pronounced punishment for the youths after they were found guilty of setting a number of houses on fire at Gochhapada area during the ethno-communal violence in Kandhamal last year.
They were also found to be making unlawful assembly by defying curfew.
The imprisonment period could extend for three more months in case penalty amount were not paid.
With conviction of six persons, the total number of persons convicted relating to the riot increased to 12 while over 42 persons were acquitted.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Assault on two Protestant churches in Karnataka. Police accused of aiding and abetting

Bangalore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Two Protestant churches attacked, Bibles and prayer books destroyed or sequestered, pastors and believers threatened. This happened in the district of Tumkur in the state of Karnataka in southern India.   The crime is reported by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which attributes the attack to members of the Sangh Parivar and accuse local police officers of aiding and abetting the violence.

Local sources say that in the late evening of 28 August, a group of Hindu radicals stormed the Gypsy Prayer Hall in Mavunakatte Palay. Led by three well-known activists (Rangantha, Ramalingayya Gowda and Ramesh) members of the Sangh Parivar were seen aboard a jeep along with three deputy superintendents of police, the chief inspector and deputy chief inspector of the district.  

The group has accused Hanuma Naik, the 33-year old pastor the place of worship, of forced conversions and deception, to the detriment of the local inhabitants. After having been beaten along with a student present at the time on the site, police dragged Naik to the police station opening a case against him.

The GCIC reports that after the incursion in Mavunakatte Palay, some of the attackers directed their rage on the Baptist church in Krupashraya. There too the scene was repeated. In the absence of the pastor, the group threatened his wife with punitive actions and confiscated Bibles and prayer books.  

The Sangh Parivar activists then stopped at the Protestant church of the International Cooperation Ministries (ICM) near Agrahar. They failed to cause any major harm given that the pastor barricaded himself into his house for fear of attacks.

Karnataka has long been the scene of assaults and violence against Christians. Already in coincidence with the pogrom in Orissa last summer, the Indian state had recorded attacks on local churches and communities.

Local sources say that the increase in violence has coincided with the coming power in state government of Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2009, Karnataka has recorded at least 10 attacks against Christians, the last dating back to August 11. Mainly Protestant churches are targeted in the attacks accused of carrying out forced conversions.


Tribal, non-tribal conflicts keep popping up in Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Resentment of tribals against non-tribals cornering their benefits is growing gradually in the State, taking violent form in Narayanpatna block in Koraput district.

Even though the situation is limping back to normalcy with the passage of time, the incidents of the last two months in the block, which is also a Maoist-infested area, has led to non-tribals leaving the area in fear. Reports reaching here said that the tribals are now slowly returning land forcibly acquired by them from some non-tribal families.

While the State Government has constituted a high-level committee to solve the problems which mostly are land related, the non-tribals are not yet fully confident of returning to their villages.

Elsewhere also, the situation is slowly turning serious. Though the situation has not aggravated like in Narayanpatna, rallies taken out by the tribals from time to time have put the district administrations on the defensive. Tribals in several districts are demanding that those who have usurped their benefits should be identified and condign punishment should be initiated against them. The State Government has made a beginning in Kandhamal district where the problem was identified as the root cause behind the riots which claimed more than 40 lives.

Persons who had submitted fake certificates to get government jobs and corner other benefits available for the tribals were identified and two dismissed from service. Similar demands have been raised by tribals from Balangir, Sonepur and Nuapara districts.

The white paper on law and order circulated by the State Government has admitted that such demands are coming in from the tribals of various districts on a regular basis. It said that the situations were brought under control by the timely intervention of the police on many occasions.

Meanwhile, 1,639 cases of torture on SC and ST were lodged during last year. Out of these, police have filed chargesheets in 196 cases. It said that chargesheets will be filed in 1,246 more cases. All 196 cases in which chargesheets have been filed are sub judice. It said that 1,355 cases are under police investigation.

Click here for source

Status of Government help in Kandhamal: Official figures say less than half homes rebuilt

Bhubaneswar, Aug 28 (PTI) A year after houses and places of worship were ravaged during communal violence in Orissa's Kandhamal district, only 1981 houses were rebuilt completely while 70 Churches and other prayer houses have received financial assistance from the state government, official sources said here today.
Out of the 4600 houses damaged in the riots in the aftermath of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati's killing on August 23 last year, a total of 4435 families have received the first instalment for reconstruction of their houses, they said.
Similarly, 2868 people have so far got second phase instalment for house building while 1981 houses were completely rebuilt, said Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy, who reviewed the progress on the special package for the riot victims.
Describing the rehabilitation project as "satisfactory", Tripathy attributed the delay in repairing of houses to the unwillingness of people in returning to villages even after the tension eased out.


In Kandhamal, youth clubs to heal riot scars

Bhubaneswar : A year after the Kandhamal riots, the district administration is hoping that a unique initiative involving youth will help defuse the hostility between the tribal Hindus and Dalit Christians, even as it spreads awareness about government schemes.

Kandhamal witnessed a spate of violence after VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples were gunned down by Maoists in Jalespeta on August 23 last year. More than 40 people were killed in the riots and hundreds injured. Thousands of Christians lost their homes and took refuge in several relief camps, two of which still house around 700 people altogether.

However, the government hopes that a multi-departmental and multi-structured administrative approach called Antaranga (intimate) will help salve some of the wounds left behind by the riots. The programme has been launched in around 90 gram panchayats in an effort to bring different communities together.

“Under the programme, we are setting up Antaranga clubs with 20 youths as members who would be made aware of different government programmes. The youth clubs have equal representation from Christians, Hindus, Dalits, tribals and women. We have observed that if the energies of the youths are not channelised properly, then riots like those of 2008 may recur,” said Kandhamal Collector Krishan Kumar.

District officials said lack of development in Kandhamal contributed to the communal tension in the district. While some people gravitated towards Christianity as a way to better their lot, Hindu backlash also started as proponents of the Hindutva brigade claimed that the missionaries, funded by foreign NGOs, were out to make the district a “land of Christians”.

“For illiterate tribals and Dalits, flitting from one religion to another was their only vocation as basic development eluded them. They simply did not have any idea about the government programmes being implemented in the district and thus take advantage,” said an official.

The aim is to put in place 100 such clubs with 2,000 youths as members by the end of September.

Click here for source

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Orissa, acquitted for lack of evidence one of the brains behind anti-Christian pogrom

by Nirmala Carvalho. www.asianews.it
Charges of arson against Manoj Pradhan, one of 14 charges against him, are dropped. BJP leader and elected to the legislature of Orissa, he is accused of killing 7 Christians. Activists denounce the inaction of the administration in punishing those responsible for crimes.

Kandhamal (AsiaNews) - Manoj Pradhan was acquitted of arson, in one of the 14 charges against pending against him. He is one of the brains of the pogrom against Christians in Orissa, a local court has acquitted him for "lack of evidence." The Court's decision casts Christian activists into confusion, who report yet another case of government "inertia" in "punishing those responsible" for violence.

Manoj Pradhan, an right-wing activist belonging to the Hindu nationalist movement Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and recently elected to the Legislative Assembly of Orissa, is accused of 14 instances of violence, including 7 murders of Christians. One concerns an arson attack on the village of Pisamaha, August 27, 2008, in which many homes of Christian families were destroyed. Gutia Digal, a resident of the village, lodged a complaint against Pradhan; in the trial initiated against him, the court decided to acquit because the evidence "is insufficient to issue a verdict."

Harsh reaction from Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who speaks of "inertia of the administration in seeing justice done for the atrocities committed against Christians." He denounces the "free hand enjoyed by the Sangh Parivar, the Hindu nationalist movement," in attacking and killing Christians, burning and destroying houses and property in Kandhamal, where many of the guilty "still roam freely and unpunished”.

The GCIC once again calls for "justice" and "measures" against those who want to "intimidate the Christians who testify" in the trails surrounding events in Orissa. "The state is failing - adds Sajan K George - in the primary task of using his power to ensure security and justice ... The GCIC has a list of 123 people killed (the total number of deaths exceeds 500, note) during anti-violence -Christian".

The Christian activist, finally, points also denounces "inadequate compensation" and "massive delays" in compensation for victims of violence, along with possible "cases of corruption by officials" of state government.

Friday, August 28, 2009

40 students flee Kandhamal school

BERHAMPUR: About 40 students ran away from a hostel of a government-run SC/ST school in Kandhamal district Thursday.

The pupils of sevashram (primary school) at Bhaliapani in Tumudibandh block said they are "getting a raw deal" from the headmistress. "The quality of food is very bad. When we tell her about it, she takes a non-chllanr approach. She even refuses to give us blankets and school uniforms," said a student on condition of anonymity.
The students also put up posters on the school walls, demanding the headmistress' ouster.
District authorities denied the charges. "Someone with an ill intention may have instigated the innocent children," an official said.
District welfare officer (Kandhamal) N R Kanhar and other officials rushed to the village to take stock of the situation. Kanhar said 12 students have returned to the school. "Efforts are on to bring back the others," he added.
The Bhaliapani incident follows cases reported from two kanyashrams (state-run high schools for girls) at Pakalamahala in Daringibadi block and Lingagada in Baliguda recently.
Alarmed over the spurt of cases of runaway students, the state government has asked panchayats to monitor the running of SC/ST schools. The government has also asked block development officers to hold regular meetings with panchayat representatives, headmasters and hostel superintendents to discuss various problems faced by the institutions.
"When elected representatives monitor the management of schools and discuss problems faced by teachers and students, the government can take effective measures to improve the situation," the government circular said.
The directive, however, remains only in pen and paper. Most BDOs in tribal-dominated Kandhamal district have failed to call such a meeting even as schools run by the SC/ST welfare department continue to face a host of problems, including alleged mismanagement.

Click here for source

Friday, August 14, 2009

Religious Freedom Panel Slams India

By Jacqueline L. Salmon, Washington Post

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) plans to announce later today that it has placed India on its watch list because of that country's "inadequate" response to religious violence, particularly against the country's Muslim and Christian minorities.
USCIRF is an independent U.S. agency whose job is to make sure religious freedom is taken into account in U.S. foreign policy. Its watch list consists of countries with governments that tolerate "serious violations of religious freedom." The watch list isn't as draconian as the commission's list of "countries of particular concern" (for governments that tolerate more severe violations of religious freedom).

Either way, it's not a list that most foreign governments like to find themselves on. (Some on the list, such as Burma and Iran, probably don't care.)

It's also likely to annoy the State Department, which has long complained that foreign government mistakenly believe that the commission makes U.S. policy--which it doesn't. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited India in July, when the countries announced agreements to strengthen a relationship that has dramatically improved in recent years.

Yesterday, a State Department spokesperson stressed that the commission is an independent federal commission.

"It doesn't speak for the U.S. government," she said. "While the State Department considers its recommendation very carefully, it is not bound by them."

There are already signs that USCIRF's decision to place India on its watch list could cause problems between the U.S. and India. Some of the eight members of USCIRF had planned a June trip to the country to look into reports of religious violence, but their applications for visas were turned down.

Conservative groups from the Hindu majority criticized the visit. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) of America warned in a statement that a trip would signal that President Barack Obama's administration "does not care if its relationship with a peaceful, democratic nation is jeopardized."

In an interview, USCIRF chairman Leonard Leo rejected the warnings that placing India on the watch list would jeopardize U.S.-Indian relations.

"We always have policy recommendations, and we try to be fairly specific about what our concerns are," he said. "We try not to paint with a broad brush, which is meant to be a signal that we are trying to be honest and fair...We're trying to spark a meaningful dialogue and create a partnership for improving the situation."

In its report, USCIRF paints a grim picture of religious persecution in India, charging that national and local judiciaries and police are unwilling or unable to deal with the religious violence that regularly rocks the country. That includes the 2002 mass killings of Muslims in the state of Gujarat that left 2,000 dead and attacks on Christian churches and individuals in the state of Orissa in 2007 and 2008. USCIRF also defends proselytizers, criticizing laws in several Indian states that make religious conversions difficult. The laws generally require government officials to determine whether it is a "sincere" conversion.

Click here for source

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Christian body moves court over distribution of Bible

BANGALORE: A Christian organisation on Monday petitioned the Karnataka High Court against what it alleged as illegal attempts by the State Government to prevent the distribution of the Bible in schools in Karnataka.

Christian Legal Association said the State Government was perusing a policy of selectively propagating only one religion while ignoring other religions. It charged the State Government with preventing dissemination of knowledge of the Bible by preventing public educational institutions from receiving such books.

It alleged that the State had issued a circular on June 29, 2006, directing all educational institutions to purchase books pertaining to Hindu religion.

The association said when it had sought permission to distribute free copies of the Bible in schools, the State had initially agreed but backtracked subsequently. It urged the court to direct the State to permit distribution of the Bible in schools.

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking census of backward classes in the State came up for hearing before the Karnataka High Court.

Petitioner A. Mohanakrishnan urged the court to direct the State to take up census of backward classes and to survey their social, economic and educational standing.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit adjourned hearing of the case.

Click here for source

Christian body moves court over distribution of Bible

BANGALORE: A Christian organisation on Monday petitioned the Karnataka High Court against what it alleged as illegal attempts by the State Government to prevent the distribution of the Bible in schools in Karnataka.

Christian Legal Association said the State Government was perusing a policy of selectively propagating only one religion while ignoring other religions. It charged the State Government with preventing dissemination of knowledge of the Bible by preventing public educational institutions from receiving such books.

It alleged that the State had issued a circular on June 29, 2006, directing all educational institutions to purchase books pertaining to Hindu religion.

The association said when it had sought permission to distribute free copies of the Bible in schools, the State had initially agreed but backtracked subsequently. It urged the court to direct the State to permit distribution of the Bible in schools.

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking census of backward classes in the State came up for hearing before the Karnataka High Court.

Petitioner A. Mohanakrishnan urged the court to direct the State to take up census of backward classes and to survey their social, economic and educational standing.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit adjourned hearing of the case.

Click here for source

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

16 acquitted in Kandhamal riots case

Phulbani (Orissa), Aug 1 (PTI) Sixteen persons arrested in connection with the killing of an OSAP constable and setting fire to a police station in Orissa's Kandhamal district during communal riots last year, were acquitted by a local court here due to lack of evidence.
The Additional Sessions Judge, fast track court, Phulbani passed the order yesterday.
Aggrieved over the police action against them during the communal riots, a mob consisting of mostly tribals, had attacked the police station at Gochhapada, 30 km from here on the night of September 15, 2008, the prosecution said.
They had also gunned down Bibhudendra Biswal, an on-duty jawan of the OSAP 3rd batallion near the police station.
All the accused belonged to nearby villages of Tambisuga, Gorasahi, Pipalmal, Murja and Gochhapara.

Fresh tension in Kandhamal

PHULBANI (ORISSA): School students allegedly assaulted two persons for carrying beef through their institute premises in Kotgarh area, triggering tension in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district, official sources said today.

Nakul Nayak of Belghar village and Surendra Nayak of Kotgarh allegedly carried beef through the premises of Asaramji Bapu High School on Sunday.

The students, who are opposed to cow slaughter, caught the duo and allegedly assaulted them before handing them over to the police, the sources said.

Sent to judicial custody

The duo was sent to judicial custody after their bail petition was rejected by a local court. “The beef consignment has been sent to Baliguda for examination,” the sources said.

Besides religious conversion, cow slaughter is another factor behind frequent tension between the two communities.

Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar rushed to Kotgarh along with additional force as precautionary measure since the incident occurred just ahead of Janmashtami on August 13.

“The situation is under control,” Mr. Kumar said.

The district administration has convened a peace meeting on August 5 in order to impress upon leaders of different communities to refrain from activities that hurt each other. — PTI

Monday, August 03, 2009

Slain Kerala priest's family want another autopsy

he family of Catholic priest James Mukalel, who was found dead on the roadside in Karnataka's Dakshin Kannada district earlier this week, have decided to go in for another post-mortem to ascertain the cause of his death.

The 38-year-old's body is now at the St. Sebastian's Church at Vellad in Kannur district and the last rites would be performed on Saturday by a team of priests, said Deny George, a family friend of Mukalel.

"Once the service gets over, the body will be taken to the Government Medical College at Kozhikode for another post-mortem because close relatives, including his parents and his brother Tomy, feel there is something wrong," George, an advocate by profession, told IANS.

"The body has already undergone a post-mortem in Mangalore and arrived in Kannur on Friday evening. As and when the body comes back from the hospital, it would be buried in the cemetery at St. Sebastian's Church," he said.

Mukalel's naked body was lying at a distance from his motorbike on which he was returning to Kutrupady near Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada after attending the funeral of another parish priest in the adjacent Charmadi village.

The young priest was recently posted at St. Mary's Church at Kutrupady after a three-year service at Thotthady near Belthangady.

The police in Karnataka have already registered a case of unnatural death. The body did not bear external wounds or signs of attack. The coastal district police have formed a team to investigate the priest's death as there was no pillion-rider with him or witness to give an account of the incident.

The coastal district had witnessed a spate of attacks last year on churches and chapels by Hindu activists protesting alleged forcible conversions by missionaries and priests.

Click here for source

Dharma Sena attacks house of love, Jabalpur

A mob of about 40 Hindu extremists allegedly from Dharam Sena attacked Sneh Sadan Institute (Home of Love) run by the Christians on July 26 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
According to an EFI correspondent, Akhilesh Edgar, at about 12:30 a.m. the Hindu extremists, shouting anti-Christians tried to enter the handicapped and mentally retarded institute run by the Methodist Church.
The extremists accused the institute manager, Mrs Lily Paul of forceful conversion and filed a complaint against her prior to the attack. The police arrived on the spot before the extremists ‘ done any major harm to the Christians, according to reports.
The police took written statement about the institute. After an enquiry, the police provided the Christians police protection and promised to give them security in the future. The incident was flashed in local dailies.
Sneh Sadan was set up in 1779 and has been the "home sweet home" for many special people. There are about 40 people living in the institute now.
Praise God for the timely intervention of the police and please pray for all the people in the home.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Main kingpin and key accused of the Kandhamal riots back in prison

Manoj Pradhan, BJP MLA from G Udayagiri who was the main kingpin and key accused of the Kandhamal riots is back in jail after his extended interim bail term expired on 31st July 2009 (Friday). Pradhan is a key accused in the Kandhamal riots that broke out after the assassination of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in 23rd August 2008.

Pradhan was granted bail by Orissa High Court on July 4, but walked out of prison the next day. He took oath as a member of the august house on July 6.

Pradhan is the one amongst the only six BJP MLAs who had won the vote staying behind the bars. 14 cases of murder, attempt murder, riots and arson, were registered against him.

The court had granted him bail for fifteen days only. But as his bail term was about to expire, he approached the court again and succeeded in seeing his bail period extended till July 31.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Priest killed in Karnataka

A priest was killed Wednesday in the southern Indian state of Karnataka where Christians have been targeted in violent attacks, the Vatican-based news agency Asianews said Thursday.

The naked body of James Mukalel, 39, was found Thursday morning on a road leading to his parish in the diocese of Belthangady.

According to initial investigations, he was killed while returning to his parish after having conducted a funeral in a neighbouring village.

The bishop of the diocese Lawrence Mukkuzhy did not put forward any theories as to the motive for the killing, but ruled out a straightforward criminal act.

Another diocesan official Tomy Mattom said it looked like an "execution." He said the body had no obvious wounds and initial information led him to believe the priest had been strangled.

An autopsy must be carried out soon to determine the cause of death.

Indian Christian groups have demanded an inquiry into the killing and other attacks on Christians in the region, Asianews said.

Twenty churches and chapels have been destroyed in the past year in Karnataka.

In the eastern state of Orissa last year, thousands of Christians were forced to flee after Hindu mobs burned their houses, churches, orphanages and schools. At least 35 people were killed in the attacks.

Christians account for 2.3 percent of India's billion-plus Hindu majority population.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Minority leaders for longer stay of CRPF in Kandhamal

Bhubaneswar, Jul 23 (PTI) Eleven months after the Kandhamal riots rocked Orissa, minority leaders today sought continued deployment of CRPF in the strife-torn district, claiming there was still fear and anxiety among people due to the alleged pressure to re-convert.
"An atmosphere of fear and anxiety still exists in Kandhamal despite considerable improvement in situation.
People are threatened and asked to re-embrace Hinduism when they return from relief camps to their villages," Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Raphael Cheenath told reporters here.
Favouring retention of CRPF in the riot-hit district for more time, he said both the central paramilitary and state forces should remain there to instil confidence among people and restore normalcy.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Naveen for stay of CRPF in Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Worried over back-to-back attacks by the Naxalites in different parts of the State, including the killing of two security personnel in Sundargarh district, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday sent an SOS to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram requesting him to allow the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to continue in Kandhamal district till September 30. Naveen has also reiterated his demand for seven more battalions of CRPF to be deployed in the Naxalite-affected districts. The Centre has started withdrawal of CRPF from Kandhamal despite requests from Naveen to extend their stay. Now, five companies of CRPF are left in the strife-torn district.

The base of the Naxalites has increased in Kandhamal which witnessed communal violence last year. The attack on the Katingia police outpost under Bamunigaon police station by the Left-Wing Extremists (LWEs) late on Friday has left the district administration on tenterhooks as it will now have to deal with the situation without the Central forces.

Underscoring the need for deployment of CRPF in the district, Naveen said Kandhamal is Naxalite-affected and had witnessed communal strife last year.

The Centre has recently included Kandhamal in security-related expenditure (SRE) scheme because of the repeated attacks by the Naxalites at different places. The Naxalites had attacked a forest beat house near Daringbadi and triggered landmine blast. Sporadic incidents have taken place in the district pointing to increased presence of the extremists in the area.

Attacks on police stations and forest beat houses in inaccessible areas of Koraput, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Kandhamal districts have now become regular.

The activities of the Naxalites are on the rise in Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks of Koraput district for the last six months. Ten security personnel were killed at Narayanpatna in a landmine blast suspected to have been triggered by the ultras 24 hours before the visit of Chidambaram to the area last month.

At a time when the Government is grappling with the problem in Narayanpatna block where tribals have seized land from non-tribals during the last one month leading to fleeing of non-tribals from the area, the killing of the sub-inspector in Sundargarh has put the police on the backfoot.

Last month, another police officer was killed by the Naxalites in Sambalpur district.

The incidents have turned out to be embarrassing for the State Government as the Budget session of the Assembly is going on. The Opposition is planning to raise the issue in the House on Monday during the discussion on the Budget for the Home department.

Click here for source

Kandhamal riot accused MLA's bail extended

Phulbani (Orissa), Jul 17 (PTI) A local court today extended till July 31 the interim bail granted to BJP MLA Manoj Pradhan, accused of inciting communal riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district.
The fast track court of Sovan Kumar Das here extended the bail period of Pradhan, who was granted conditional interim bail for 15 days on July four.
The extension was granted to him on the basis of Orissa High Court's order, special public prosecutor Bijay Patnaik said.
After taking oath as a member of Orissa Assembly following his release on July 5, a day after getting bail, Pradhan had moved the court seeking extension of the bail period to enable him to attend Assembly proceedings

Click here for source

Monday, June 08, 2009

Orissa nun rape case: Chargesheet filed against seven

Bhubaneswar : Unable to nab two of the 19 accused persons in the nun rape case, the Crime Branch (CB) of Orissa police moved the court seeking legal sanctions to declare the duo as absconders even as it filed chargesheet against seven others on Friday.

Though the CB sleuths had so far arrested 17 persons on charges of their alleged involvement in the rape of a 29-year-old catholic nun at Kandhamal on August 25, 2008, it failed to arrest the two others even as several notices had been served at their addresses.

The duo identified as Gururam Patra and Pandit Bisi Majhi neither responded to the CB notices, nor cooperated with the investigation despite several warnings, a senior official engaged in the investigation said.

We can hang notices on the doors of the accused persons if the court allows us to declare them as absconder, Investigating Officer of the nun rape case, Dilip Kumar Mohanty said adding that the police could seize their property if they fail to surrender before the investigating agency.

Meanwhile, the CB had already filed chargesheet against the 17 persons in two phases. While chargesheets were filed at Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate's (sdjm) court at Baliguda earlier, similar documents were produced at the court against seven other accused on Friday.

Click here for source

Kandhamal: Posters against BJP MP

Still recovering from last year’s communal riots, Kandhamal witnessed fresh tension on Thursday after hand-written posters containing threats to a local BJP legislator — accused of leading murderous mobs during the riots — appeared in Raikia area of the district.

Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said at least two posters warning G Udayagiri’s BJP MLA Manoj Pradhan and Bajrang Dal activists of dire consequences for “their role in the riots” were found pasted in Raikia.

This is the place which bore the brunt of the anti-Christian riots that followed the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda. At least 38 people were killed in the riots and hundreds were rendered homeless in the violence.

Police officials said the threat posters could have been the handiwork of Maoists as the area has a strong rebel presence. But they said they were also examining other possibilities.

Click here for source

Pastor beaten up in Hosur

Uddinapally, 8 June 2009: Pastor Paul Chinnaswamy (50) was attacked by two young men on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. while he was sitting in front of his church in Uddinapally, Hosur Taluk, Krishnagiri District in Tamil Nadu.

Pastor Paul was fasting on Saturday morning and sitting outside his church alone when the attackers, both around thirty years old, came on a bike and stopped in front of the pastor. They asked him, “Why do you have to do these things?” Without another word, they got off the bike. One of them kicked the pastor in his chest so hard that the pastor dropped to the ground in pain. Before he could get up, the other man punched the pastor in his jaw, breaking two of his teeth.

About 200 meters away, there were several villagers who were making bricks. When they saw the pastor being attacked, they ran towards him to help him. When the attackers saw the villagers running towards them, they got on their bike and fled. The villagers picked up the pastor and rushed him to a nearby clinic for first aid.

After the pastor was attended to medically, the villagers and he went to the nearby Uddinapally Police Station and lodged a complaint there. When asked by the police if he knew who his attackers were, the pastor said he did not know them and had not even noticed their number plate, but he could recognize them if he saw them. Hearing this the police took him to three surrounding villages but the pastor was not able to identify his attackers.

It is most likely that the attackers were from a distant village and from radical Hindu groups. This is one of several attacks that have occurred against Pastor Paul over the past few years. He has been warned several times by the police to be careful of Hindutva groups in the area. His family and his home have been attacked several times over 2007-2008 and he has received numerous threats as well.

At the time of the attack, Pastor Paul was alone. His family was visiting his ailing mother-in-law in Kelamangalam, 8 kms away from Uddinapally.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Hindu extremists burn three Christian homes in Kandhamal

by Nirmala Carvalho

The victims identified the ring leaders, but the police have advised them against naming him on the report. The attack took place on May 31st, the very day the armies sent to protect Christians in the area withdrew.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Three Christian houses, were set on fire by Hindu extremists in Sirsapanga village of Kandhamal, (Orissa). The episode took place on May 31st in the evening, the very day the Central reserve police force (Crf), sent to the area to protect the Christians, began their phased withdrawal as mandated by the central government. The incident seems aimed at stopping from Christians returning to their villages.

The three houses belong to Manoj Pradhan, Lankeswar and Sunil Digal and lie only 3 km from the headquarters of the Crpf. Eyewitnesses report that the extremist group celebrated the police withdrawal by attacking the homes. Deployed for months across the region to halt assaults and another pogrom of the Christians, the New Delhi government decided to withdraw the Crpf. The Orissa governor, Naveen Patnaik, has however asked the Minister for Internal Affairs Chidambaram to leave the last 10 companies - circa 1000 men – at least for another three months.

The withdrawal coincides with the closure of the refugee camps and the Orissa governments appeal to the Christians to prepare for their return to their home villages. On June 5th the district administration in Kandhamal organised a peace meeting between the Christians in the camps and the communities of their local villages. Fr. Bijay Pradhan, parish priest in Raikia, sees in the burning of the three homes in Sirsapanga “an attempt to stop this”.

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic), explains that “The Christians from Sirsapanga village have not returned to the village, they are still in the Refugee camps. The administration is keen that the people go back to the villages and be resettled, so occasionally, the Christians go to their homes and try to make some temporary repairs. This is being objected to by the dominant community, and the burning of the three Christians homes is an attempt to control our people”.

The situation is still unstable. The three owners of the burned houses in Sirsapanga have presented official reports to the police. According to Fr.Ajay Kumar Singh, Director of Jan Vikas, Social Action Initiative “the gang was led by Dilu Mohanty, who is mastermind behind attacks against Christians in Raikia and G.Udayagiri”. The victims identified him in First Information Report. “But the police – continues Fr. Singh – asked them to change tehir report ommitting the extremist agng leaders name”.

“Culprits [of the violence] continue to roam about freely, - concludes Fr. Pradhan - and some of them threaten our people that if they don’t withdraw their police reports against them, they will not be able to return to their villages”.

Click here for source

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blow to Kandhamal caste certificate probe

Bhubaneswar : The drive in Kandhamal against use of fake caste certificates for government jobs, which was started in November last year soon after the anti-Christian riots, has come to a grinding halt with the vigilance department withdrawing the 10 specially deputed investigating officers (IOs).

The alleged use of fake caste certificates was one of the major reasons for building anger in the tribal-dominated district against Christians, which ultimately led to the riots in which 38 people were killed.

Officials said Kandhamal, which has 25 per cent Christian population, had seen many Dalit Christians submitting fake tribal certificates for government jobs and buying lands. The law enables job reservation for people belonging to Scheduled Tribes even after converting to another religion, whereas Dalits are not eligible for quota if they convert.

Apparently, many Dalits, mostly Christians in Kandhamal, reportedly used fake certificates that showed them as members of Kandha tribe. Several officials and politicians face the allegations.

Though the state Government had deputed 10 vigilance department inspectors to investigate 876 allegations on the issue of forged caste certificates, they were quietly withdrawn in February this year. “Of the 800-odd cases, the inspectors had investigated less than half the cases when they were called back by their parent department. This has hit the investigation process,” said Kandhamal Collector Krishan Kumar.

Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy, who reviewed the progress of the special package announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for Kandhamal district on Monday, was apparently dismayed by the return of the inspectors. While directing the home department to depute the required number of inspectors for probing the remaining cases, Tripathy asked the Collector to cancel the false caste certificates immediately.

Click here for source

CRPF to leave Kandhamal, Naveen wants them to stay

BHUBANESWAR, 27 MAY: With the deadline for withdrawal of central paramilitary forces from Kandhamal district barely two days away, chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik rang up home minister Mr P Chidambaram today seeking a three month extension of the CRPF deployment.
Official sources said Mr Patnaik had earlier written to the home minister on 21 May making a similar request and today he spoke to Mr Chidambaram as a follow up measure. The home minister has reportedly said he would look into the matter.
It may be noted here that the CRPF which has been deployed since 10 months now is scheduled to return on 31 May.
Central paramilitary forces were pressed into service following the communal violence in Kandhamal district since August, 2008.
The state DGP Mr Manmohan Praharaj said he was hopeful of a positive response from the Centre. "Simultaneously, the state is preparing itself to deploy 16 companies of armed police and special police officers in the troubled region," he informed.
Reliable sources said the Centre had in an earlier communication to the state rejected the demand for further extension of central paramilitary forces. It had also sought a payment of Rs 181 crore from the state towards the prolonged deployment of central forces.

Click here for source

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kandhamal painted in Saffron

BHUBANESWAR: The BJP might have lost ground in most parts of Orissa but in the hub of the communal cauldron of Kandhamal, its has been saffron all the way.

The strife-torn district has returned BJP candidates in two of its three Assembly segments, reflecting a deep polarisation of votes and angst among the local populace over the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati.

In G. Udaygiri, the BJP’s Hindutva mascot Manoj Pradhan pulled off an upset defeating sitting MLA and Congress candidate Ajayanti Pradhan by a margin of over 23,500 votes.

The BJD’s Luksuna Majhi has been relegated to the third position even as his party swept the polls across the State. An RSS pracharak and a protege of Swami Lakshmanananda, Pradhan fought the elections from jail. He was arrested in connection with 14 cases of rioting and murder which followed the murder of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati.

Combined with the religious polarisation, Pradhan has been able to evoke a sympathy wave in his favour with the Hindu and tribal votes going en bloc for him.

The votes of the dominant Christian community in the segment have been divided between the Congress and BJD paving way for Pradhan’s victory, observers said.

At Baliguda segment too, the ground zero of the communal violence and home to Swami’s Ashram, the BJP emerged victorious with sitting MLA Karendra Majhi retaining the seat.

The slain seer had in fact pressed for his candidature in the last elections and this time too Majhi had to use all his resources to gain the party ticket. He defeated his nearest rival Congress candidate Sadananda Mallick by around 3,246 votes. BJD’s Dinesh Singh Pradhan came third in the segment.

However, the Phulbani Assembly segment has been retained by the BJD with Debendra Kahanr winning the seat by a margin of 8,701 votes over rival Deba Narayan Pradhan of BJP.

The Kandhamal district had witnessed large-scale violence in the aftermath of the killing of the Swami and his four disciples at Jalespeta Ashram on August 23 last year. More than 47 lives were lost with over 25,000 rendered homeless and shifted to relief camps. Most of them have returned to their houses though.

The elections to the constituencies in the district were also embroiled in controversy with Christian organisations demanding postponement of the polls on the plea that the situation was not conducive.

But the polls passed off peacefully with turnout of over 60 per cent. There was 80 per cent polling in the relief camps too.

Click here for source

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Persecution reported in three states of India

Two incidents of assault and one incident of vandalism were reported from three states on Wednesday.
According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, about 30 extremists from a Hindu group attacked a Christian meeting, injuring 10 believers and a five-year-old girl in Mumbai.
The attackers reportedly from the Swami Narendra Maharaj Sansthan, forcefully entered the prayer meeting at Damodar Hall in Nallasopara (East), and beat up the pastor, children and women. There were over 200 Christians attending the meeting organised by ‘Vasai Taluka Christian Pastors Association’.
"After closing the doors and windows of the hall on all sides, the hardline Hindus forced Christians to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and started beating the believers when they refused to recite the Hindu devotional," reported an EFI correspondent.
"Pastor James Samuel received hospital treatment and had five stitches to his head while about 10 others including a five-year-old child were left with bruises."
The incident led to the arrest of five Hindu extremists who have been charged for rioting.
The evangelical body reported a similar case as 15 Hindu radicals on May 3 "attacked an afternoon prayer meeting, burned Bibles and Christian literatures in Bara Koni Area, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. "
The extremists burned Bibles, gospel tracts, broke up crockery and other household goods after which they proceeded to verbally abusing the Christians and threatening them with dire consequences if continued to gather for Christian meetings.
In another incident of vandalism, suspected religious fanatics, in Sidapuram Village in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh, burned a church roof and furniture.
According to the All India Christian Council (aicc), unknown persons broke the church gate and attempted to burn the whole church building.
"After an hour, the fire was noticed and the alarm was raised," aicc said, adding the fire had destroyed the furniture, carpet and roof of the church. Property worth almost Rs 50,000 was lost in the fire.
An FIR is being registered in the local police station.


Monday, May 04, 2009

US Panel to visit India

Washington : For the first time, a US Congress-backed panel on religious freedom would visit India next month to gain perspective on Indian government's response to allegations of communal violence in Gujarat, Orissa and other parts of the country.

As a result, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) refrained from publishing the status of religious freedom in India in its annual report released on Friday.

However, the report does mention Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the only individual who has been denied an American visa under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which bars entry into the US of those foreigners who are "responsible for or directly carried out, particularly severe violations of religious freedom".

It said the provision has been invoked only once in 2005, when Modi was denied entry to the US to attend the World Gujarati meet over his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The '2008 Status of Religious Freedom' report has placed 12 States including China, Pakistan, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia as countries of particular concern.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Church attacked in Karnataka

Shimoga, 16 April 2009:

On 12th April 2009 a group of Hindutva radicals attacked the Padmos Prayer Hall at Analekoppa, Sagar Taluk, Shimoga district, Karnataka.

A group of 20 people led by Chowdappa barged into the Padmos Prayer Hall house church while the service was going on. The radicals caught the pastor, Rajesh G. Kurdekar, and accused him of indulging in forceful conversions. They took photographs of the church and accused the pastor of converting innocent Hindus to Christianity.

When Pastor Rajesh approached the Sagar City Police Station for help, instead of giving him protection, the police official accused the pastor of conducting worship services. The police warned the pastor not to conduct any more prayer services or he would have to face dire consequences.

Source: GCIC

Monday, April 06, 2009

Staines killer Dara Singh is contesting elections

Rabindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh, convicted in the killing of an Australiam missionary and his minor sons, filed his nomination for Ghasipura assembly constituency in Orissa, a top official said.

Dara Singh, presently lodged in a Keonjhar jail, submitted his papers to the sub-collector of Anandapur through an agent identified as Netrananda Mahanta.

"Rabinda Kumar Pal has submitted his papers for Ghasipura seat on the last day of filing nomination as an independent candidate," sub-collector Suresh Chandra Mallick told PTI over phone.

However, Dara, sources in the election office said, has not attached certain documents like his affidavit.

Manoharpur village, where the missionary Graham Staines was murdered on the night of January 22, 1999, is within the Ghasipura assembly segment.

Dara, convicted in September 2003 for the killing, had set fire to the station wagon in which Staines and his two minor sons Philip and Timothy were sleeping.

Though Dara and his associate Mahendra Hembram were given capital punishment, Orissa High Court later commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment.

Besides, Dara was also accused in 11 other cases including killing of another Christian priest Arul Doss and a Muslim trader.

Click here for source

Dalit Christians can get SC status by reconversion

CHENNAI: In a significant decision, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to grant Scheduled Caste community certificate to children of converted Christian parents who reconvert to Hinduism. The Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department has issued a government order to this effect.
"The children born to Christian Schedule Caste parents i.e., Christian by birth, converted to Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism at a later date and the Scheduled Caste parents embracing Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism converted to other religion and subsequently reconverted Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, if they are accepted by their community people, the revenue authorities can issue Scheduled Caste community certificate to them to become eligible for the constitutional privileges conformed on the Hindu Scheduled Caste (following Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism) and order accordingly," the government order said.
Granting Scheduled Castes status for re-converted Hindus has been one of the long standing demands of Adi-Dravidar groups in Tamil Nadu. In fact, the current government order has been issued after a long-drawn legal battle.
In Tamil Nadu, Dalit converts to Christianity are treated only as Backward Class and do not enjoy the SC benefits. The latest order will enable those aggrieved by this rule to reconvert to Hinduism or Sikhism or Buddhism and avail Scheduled Caste status.
During 1995, the state government had clarified that the born Christians (Children born to Christian parents), even after conversion to Hinduism at a later date, they are not eligible to obtain the Community Certificate as Hindu Adi Dravida and they cannot enjoy the constitutional benefits conferred to the Hindu Adi Dravida.
However, this was challenged before the Madras high court. Delivering its verdict on the petition in 2007, the court had set aside the government's stand and directed it to reexamine its position.
Subsequently, the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department sought the opinion of the advocate general on the matter based on which they issued SC certificates to reconverted Hindus on a case on case basis.

Click here for source

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Look who's talking now: Modi Blames Naveen for Orissa violence

Bhubaneswar (Orissa): Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hits out at his Orissa counterpart Naveen Patnaik for the recent communal violence in the State.
The firebrand BJP leaders, who extensively addressed several public meetings at State’s western part, blamed Naveen for the communal clash.
The Chief Minister is responsible for the communal violence. Forcible conversion should be stopped with immediate effect to restore communal harmony among various communities, he added.
He also came down heavily on Patnaik for his failure to nab the killers and conspirators behind the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati. “It was unfortunate the killers and running freely and the Government making all out effort to appease the minorities,” he added.
Modi, who also addressed at a huge gathering at Raikia in riot hit southern district of Kandhamal, about 270 kilometers away from here, demanded immediate arrest of the killers.
Earlier in the day, stepping up his party’s poll campaign for the first phase, he came down heavily on BJD president for the split in the 11-year old alliance.
“The BJD has betrayed not only us but it has also betrayed the people of the State by breaking the alliance,” Modi said while addressing a huge public meeting at Nuapada. He also alleged that the BJD is falsely propagating its success by ignoring BJP’s contribution for the development of the State.
“We were part of the Government while several of our Ministers did well in their respective Department but BJD alone claiming all success,” he said directly castigating the regional outfit’s media campaign on development.
He further added that the BJP could only provide a stable Government and avail good governance. “It was BJP, which could do well than others,” he added.
After addressing Nuapada rally, Modi reached Balangir, where party’s Sangeet Singh Deo seeking re-election at around 11 am and addressed an impressive rally. At Balangir meet, he came down heavily on Congress led UPA Government as well as on the Left leaders, who are desperately making efforts for a Third Front. “The UPA and the proposed Third Front are two separate sinking boats,” he ridiculed.

Click here for source

Saturday, April 04, 2009

From Archbishop of Orissa to Election Commission: An appeal to put off polls

To Chief Election Commissioner,

Election Commission,

Govt. of India, New Delhi

Sub: Request for postponing the Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections 2009 for the constituencies covered under Kandhamal district, Orissa in view of continuing abnormal situation caused by communal violence.


As announced by your august office the electoral process for forthcoming elections to Lok Sabha and Orissa Legislative Assembly has already commenced for the whole State of Orissa including the district of Kandhamal with effect from 2nd March 2009 and various political parties have fielded their respective candidates for different constituencies keeping an eye on the two-phase polls to be held on 16th and 23rd April 2009.

Needless to reiterate that the first and foremost requirement for holding a free and fair poll is a secure and peaceful environment where the candidates and their supporters do enjoy freedom of movement and speech to go round to every nook and corner of a constituency to meet the voters and canvas votes from them. And at the same time, the socio-cultural environment of the constituencies should be so conducive as to enable citizen who may be willing to speak out, propagate and join in any rally or meeting in favour of a party or candidate of his/her choice.

However, as the entire nation knows, the situation in Kandhamal, greatly disturbed by the continuing communal holocaust since the last week of August 2008 is still very tense and abnormal, completely unsuitable to the possibility of a peaceful electoral process, let alone free and fair polls on the scheduled dates. We cite the following reasons as to why we consider the Kandhamal situation as exceptionally abnormal and therefore unsuitable to the scheduled holding of Lok Sabha and Assembly Polls –

There are still nearly 3,200 persons living in the refugee camps run by the Government in different places of Kandhamal. Their houses were destroyed/burnt away and valuables looted by the communalist miscreants during the riots beginning from last week of August 2008.

In the process their Voter Identity Cards were also lost away. The efforts made by the Government to provide the duplicate Voter Identity Cards to these hapless refugees is neither complete nor satisfactory.

They know not whether their names are enrolled in the Voters’ List and where they have to go to exercise their franchise.

At a conservative estimate about 50 thousand persons of Kandhamal belonging to minority community of Christians comprising both SCs and STs and Hindu Dalits were affected by the communal violence that raged for months together. While a faction of the affected lot preferred to take shelter in the Government run refugee camps in and outside Kandhamal including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, a considerable number, out of a mortal fright altogether fled Kandhamal to unknown destinations leaving their house, valuables, cattle and crops behind just to save their life. The worst affected are the women. Till date the Government has not made any survey whatsoever of these people and no body knows where they are at present. There is no possibility at all that such people would ever be able to return within a short span of time to their respective villages, to re-arrange the Voter Identity Cards lost in the riots and exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections. And needless to say, the elections if at all held bypassing such a big faction of Kandhamal electorate would produce a fractured verdict to the glee of rioters and miscreants who always want the election to be held without the affected minority and Dalit members being able to exercise their franchise.

As regards the thousands of members of refugee camps, who as per the Government records have returned to their respective villages, their condition is also equally pitiable. On nagging pressure by the Government officials the refugees, batch after batch, left the camps on different dates supposedly to resume their life in their respective villages. But as soon as they reached their villages, they were threatened by a hostile crowds led by the communalist miscreants with a serious warning, which went on thus - To live in the village, you must leave Christianity, reconvert to Hinduism, pay fine, withdraw all cases and vote for our candidate, otherwise you won’t be allowed to stay on in the village. After getting such hostile treatment some families returned again to the refugee camps and many others left Kandhamal for unknown destinations in and outside the State. The Government has not made any survey of the numbers and present conditions of such families. And there is no possibility at all that these families would ever be able to exercise their franchise in the coming elections.

As is well known, there is increasing incidence of violence in different pockets of Kandhamal by both extremist groups, namely Maoists and M-2. The first group targets the hindutva fundamentalists while the second group, strangely enough, targets its retaliation, not against Maoists as such but against the selected leaders of minority and Dalit community. As a result, the overall atmosphere of Kandhamal is charged with both extremist and communal violence of every sort, leading to cessation of free movement and free expression on the part of the common people. Since the State machinery has conspicuously failed to nab the frontline leaders of such extremist outfits till date, it is also very much likely that they can destroy polling booths and polling process at any place at any time victimizing the common voters in the process.

It is a fact that a section of innocent Adivasis and Dalits were somehow implicated in various non-bailable charges concerning riots, while the real masterminds and ring leaders were let loose by the Government to continue their acts of violence against minority and Dalits. The innocent persons so charged are found to be taking shelter in forests and strange places and leading a life of under-grounder all the while as a part of their hide-and–seek game with police. There is no possibility at all that such innocent Adivasis and Dalits be ever able to participate in the canvassing activities during the electoral process or exercise their franchise in the coming polls.

The atmosphere of Kandhamal is still pervaded by the air of communal violence against minority and Dalits as fanned out by the fundamentalist hindutva forces aided by rabidly anti-Dalit verbalizations indulged in by the so-called Kui leaders. And the State machinery instead of nabbing such open advocates of communal and caste violence are found to be providing special protection to some of them and thereby vitiating further the already polarized and communalized society of Kandhamal. In such a situation there is no possibility at all for the poor, unorganized members of minority or Dalit community to come out in the open to participate in the electoral process, let alone caste their votes on the day of polls.

Till recently the leadership of the affected people thought that situation would improve, with the intervention of the state in the context of the elections. But, day by day the scenario it is deteriorating. From different sources I hear that as the election is fast approaching many those who are in Kandhamal fearing backlash, are planning to leave Kandhamal.

Under the circumstances, when there is no possibility on the part of a massive chunk of Kandhamal electorate comprising especially the minority Christians and Hindu Dalits to take part in the electoral process as free citizens and when the entire atmosphere of Kandhamal is still rent with aggressive communalism and extremist violence, and when the State machinery can’t possibly restore justice, peace and harmony in the given short span of time, and above all when there is no possibility of the people of Kandhamal exercising their right to vote freely and fearlessly, I as citizen of this country and leader of the Christians in Orissa, Most Rev. Raphael Cheenath SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, earnestly request that the proposed elections to Lok Sabha and Orissa Legislative Assembly in all constituencies of Kandhamal district be postponed to a future date, when an ideal situation will have been restored in full.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath,

Archbishop’s House,

Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Copies to:

The President of India

The Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India The Chief Justice, Orissa High Court Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission Chairperson, National Commission for Women Chairperson, National Scheduled Castes Commission State Election Commissioner

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Young Christian man killed in Orissa in what police describe as an “accident”

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Gunjan Digal, a young 23-year-old Christian man, was killed by a tractor on the side of the road in Gungibadi, a village in Kandhamal district. Police dismissed the case as a simple road accident, but a Christian activist described it as a “targeted murder” against Orissa Christians.

For the police at Saranghar station, the death, which occurred on Monday, was an ordinary road accident, a claim that Sajan K George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, rejects.

“We categorically reject claims that young Gunjan’s death was purely accidental,” he said. “The young man’s faith was well-known in the village, where there are only 21 Christian families,” forced to live in utter poverty, sheltering under plastic tents.

“Last Sunday, after ten months, Mass was finally celebrated, attended by about 50 people,” he said.

Eyewitnesses who were at the site of the accident confirm that it was “premeditated murder.”

Gunjan Digal was walking on the side of the road leaving a wide berth for the tractor to drive buy when the still unknown driver swung the vehicle against the young man, killing him on the spot.

The body is now being in police custody for the autopsy.

“Christians are victims of abductions and assassinations like that of Hrudananda Nayak, who was killed by Hindu fundamentalists last February,” Sajan K George said. “In most cases the culprits are never punished.” And according to the Christian activist the situation in Orissa is deteriorating.

Manoj Pradhan, one of the people who masterminded recent anti-Christian pogroms, is running for office under the banner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is closely aligned with Hindu fundamentalism, in an upcoming Assembly election in G Udayagiri riding, Kandhamal district.

The Hindu extremist leader is currently in jail and has police has ten files against him, seven of which include charges of murder.

Click here for source

Orissa effect: City Christians demand rights

KOLKATA: Rarely have they been fiercely vocal about their demands or pressed hard for implementation of projects that would benefit them. But the Kandhamal riots changed all that. For the city's fast-shrinking Christian community, the attacks on missionaries in Orissa served as a wake-up call. Shaken by the atrocities and the politicians' "lack of concern" for their security, they have come together to form People for People a platform of like-minded people including Muslims. They have come up with a charter of demands that will be distributed across the city and to candidates in the run up to the polls.
"For the first time, we have come together and raised a few demands. Even though we don't believe that our security is at threat in Kolkata, there is a need to change the way candidates look at us. Issues like our education, employment and security have never been given due importance. We are going to approach parties and candidates with our list of demands. So long, election issues have been dictated by parties. But now we are going to tell them what we need," said Sunil Lucas, general secretary of People for People.
The charter has demanded the withdrawal of all anti-conversion laws and banning of re-conversion. Quick compensation for victims of communal violence and punishment for remarks against communities have also been demanded. Parties have also been asked to ensure security for all communities and implement the Sachar Committee report for uplift of Muslims.
"Our demands are not entirely community-specific. But we have become more conscious of the need to raise our voice after Kandhamal," said Sister Vianny, vice-president of the organization. She pointed out that Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), too, has come up with a similar manifesto.
To begin with, People for People will distribute their "manifesto" in the form of leaflets. Later, candidates will be approached in their constituencies and asked to address the issues that are relevant in their areas. "It could be sanitation, schools or water supply in some areas and measures against trafficking in others. The problem of child labour, for instance, is a big one in Kolkata and it has never been addressed properly. We will press for it," added Lucas.
Candidates will be called for a panel discussion and asked about their views on the manifesto. "They might find it a little awkward to be asked to address issues. But it's time we made ourselves heard. Minorities have never felt insecure in Bengal but we felt we should speak out for all communities, not just us. We will benefit if the major issues are addressed," said Lucas.

Click here for source