Christian pogrom victims endure violence, and denial of justice

Orissa: Christian pogrom victims endure violence, and denial of justice
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article)
Hindu radicals continue to intimidate, commit acts of violence and economically and socially boycott Christians. The government is incapable of protecting Christians, who move elsewhere. Only in March 2011, a woman was able to file a complaint about her husband and daughter who died in the 2008 wave of violence. Initially, police refused to file her First Information Report.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “Three years since the 2008 pogroms in Orissa, Christians in Kandhamal District are still scared,” said Fr Praful Sabhapati. “But we are not discouraged. Instead, we must help our brothers hold onto their faith in Jesus.” The clergyman was parish priest in Batticola, whose church had to shut down in 2007 following threats from radical Hindu groups. Today he lives in Orissa’s capital of Bhubaneswar.
Despite government assurances, Christians, in many areas, still fear attacks from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of the most violent ultranationalist Hindu organisations. For this reason, they have left for other parts of India. “Many will not come back as long as the climate of fear and social and economic discrimination does not end,” the priest said.

In addition to violence and intimidations, Christians in Kandhamal face another form of discrimination, namely the denial of justice. Recently, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) revealed the story of a woman from a local village, Girti, who lost her husband and two-year daughter in 2008 but was not able to file a complaint until this March.

During the anti-Christian pogroms, Hindu radical groups attacked the ten Christian families living in Girti. During the incident, the woman’s husband was tortured and thrown into a pit with his daughter. The next day, she and other villages found him and their daughter. They were barely alive and died soon after.

At the time, police refused to register the First Information Report she filed.

Yesterday, GCIC President Sajan K George said that his organisation, “together with civil society, wants to unearth the buried martyrs of Kandhamal”.

Currently, Christians no longer live in Girti village. Five families (including the woman who lost her husband) moved to Semingpadar; the other five moved to another village.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article)