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Posts Tagged ‘orissa violence’

Riot-hit refuse to come back (orissa story)

Posted by jytmkh on November 5, 2008

Dwijendranath Padhy

Riot-hit people of Kandhamal who have taken shelter in Sourakuligam village in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh
Riot-hit people of Kandhamal who have taken shelter in Sourakuligam village in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh

 

 

PARLAKHEMUNDI: At a time when the State Government is claiming that riot-hit people of Kandhamal and nearby areas are returning to their houses, there are about 250 persons of the strife-torn areas who are refusing to go back to their villages out of fear.

They have taken shelter in two villages of Meliaputti and Mandasa mandals of Srikakulam district in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, 35 km from here.

As many as 109 persons of 35 families of Sarlaguda, Raikia, Nuagaon, Baliguda, Bataguda, Barkhama, G.Udaygiri, Tikabali and Suraballi areas have been residing at Sourakaligam village of Meliaputti mandal, AP, since Kandhamal violence.

‘‘Two days after the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, our village was attacked and houses were damaged. Apprehending danger, we fled to the nearby jungle and from there, we walked to Bhanjanagar in Ganjam. From there, we took a bus to Meliaputti,’’ said Santa Nayak (30). When asked if she wanted to return to her village in Kandhamal, she said : ‘‘We are not safe there.’’ Similar is the story of 10-year-old Amulya of Barkhama village of Baliguda.

He along with his family shifted to Sourakuligam village of Meliaputti immediately after the Swami’s killing.

The pastor of Meliaputti said these persons had submitted a memorandum to the District Collector of Srikakulam through the Tribal Christian United Welfare Association, requesting help basing on which the Collector has asked the local tehsildar to submit a report.

Besides, there are 140 others of Kandhamal, who have taken shelter at Kumudhisingi village of Mandasa mandal.

Meanwhile, social activists of Gajapati have urged the State Government to take steps to bring back these people to their villages.  (Expressbuzz)

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Bottom line: No food security in Kandhamal

Posted by jytmkh on October 31, 2008

Express News

BHUBANESWAR: Torn apart worldwide for the communal frenzy in recent times, Kandhamal has got a new label, and yet another dubious one. It is Orissa’s most insecure district in terms of food security.
  The no-railway, no-industry district is at the bottom of the table on food security index, according to the ‘Food Security Atlas of Rural Orissa,’ prepared by UN World Food Programme (WFP).
  The tribal-dominated district is not the only one at the nadir. For company, it has Gajapati, Rayagada and Nabarangpur which too have been termed extremely insecure.
  However, Kandhamal rules the bottom. In terms of food availability, it has been ranked 30th. Access to food index puts it at the 24th position. Ability to absorb, another parameter, leaves the district at the 30th position.
  The Food Security Index (FSI), as per this report, is a composite of three parameters including availability, access and absorption.
  While food availability uses factors like per capita value of agricultural output, percentage of villages having access to paved roads, proportion of net irrigated area to sown area and forest cover, access takes into account percentage of agricultural labour, SC/ST population, working age population and per capita monthly consumption expenditure. The absorption factor is all about percentage of households having access to safe drinking water and PHC access.
  The Atlas, prepared by WFP and New Delhi-based Institute of Human Development, revealed that going by per capita agricultural output, Kandhamal is ranked lowest (30th) while irrigation coverage puts it at 29th, just ahead of Nabarangpur.
  A district with such low development indices, Kandhamal having high forest cover has low net sown area leading to even lower irrigation and a pathetic per capita agricultural production estimated at Rs 900 per annum.
  The report was released by Abhijit Sen, member, Planning Commission, in the presence of India Country Director, WFP, Mihoko Tamamura. It has showed that rural connectivity to Kandhamal is the poorest, so are indices on access to safe drinking water.
  Interestingly, the report shows that only three districts in the State are secure while another six are moderately secure.
   ‘In the State, there is a contiguous zone of acute food insecurity – all districts of eastern ghats and the adjoining coastal pockets,’ it said. Tamamura said the Atlas marks the start of a comprehensive food security information system and will enable rational allocation of resources to the most vulnerable areas for improving food and nutritional security.

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42000 CONVERTED only 2 followed law

Posted by jytmkh on October 31, 2008

Sources-New Indian Express

KANDHAMAL (Orissa): There has been a 66 percent growth in Christian population in Orissa’s Kandhamal region, which has seen attacks on Christians and churches. Of the 42,353 who adopted Christianity between 1991 and 2001, only two followed law to change religion
According to data available with the district collectorate, the Christian population in Kandhamal was 117,950 in the 2001 census, up from 75,597 a decade earlier.
“The Christian growth rate in the district is 66 percent as against 18.6 percent for the overall population growth in the district,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.
Kumar said that the Orissa Freedom of Religious Act, which came into action in 1989, allows people to change or adopt any religion but all such individuals need to submit a form to the district magistrate.
“We have received just two applications not just between 1991 and 2001 but between 1989 and 2008. We must understand that every one must follow law,” Kumar explained.
However, he did not specify what action the district administration has taken to punish those who have violated the law.
Asked if he attributes the growth of Christian population to conversions, he said: “It could be because of two reasons – conversion and migration.”
Of the over 650,000 people in the troubled district, at least 53 percent are tribals, less than 20 percent Christians. Of the nearly 118,000 Christians, a majority has converted from Dalit families.
Kumar said that conversion, longstanding caste conflicts between tribals and Dalits, poverty and growing influence of Hindu groups among the tribal population had led to several communal clashes in recent years.
Ever since the killing of Swami Laxmanananda, a Hindu religious leader, and four of his supporters by unidentified gunmen Aug 23, anti-Christian violence has been boiling in Kandhamal.
While Maoists have claimed responsibility for the murders, the Hindu leader’s supporters have insisted that Christians were behind the murder. The Orissa Police are investigating the case.
At least 38 people including a Central Reserve Police Force trooper lost their lives in clashes. While over 3,000 houses, mostly belonging to Christians, were gutted or vandalized in Kandhamal, over 23,000 people fled from their villages fearing death.
“Yes, there is a growth in Christian population but that does not mean fanatics from organisations like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad can kill people,” Hemant Naik, a rights activists from Udaygiri town, told IANS.
“While talking about conversion, we must also talk about reconversion. While no one has complained about their change in faith to Christianity, 62 people have registered complaints about forced reconversion to Hinduism,” said another activist, Issac Digal.

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Maoists hired to kill VHP leader, claim Orissa police

Posted by jytmkh on October 17, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa police on Thursday claimed that the mastermind of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati’s killing, which sparked a wave of communa

 

l violence in Kandhamal district, had been identified as a group which hired the Maoists to execute the crime.

“Maoists were given money to train certain youths of a particular community to eliminate Saraswati”, Inspector General (IG) of Police, crime branch, Arun Ray said, claiming the mastermind of the killings had been identified.

The mastermind has fled Orissa the IG said, adding “we will trace them soon.” The plan to eliminate Saraswati was made immediately after the December 2007, communal violence in Kandhamal, he said.

Elaborating on the probe by the crime branch, he said investigations also showed that a group had collected money from some villages in Kandhamal which was given to the Maoist group to train their youths for the purpose. At least 60 youths were given arms training by Maoists, the IG said dwelling on the inputs from three arrested persons.

Ray said members of a particular community were unhappy with Saraswati and held him responsible for the riots which took place during Christmas in 2007. They requested a Maoist group to assist them in killing Saraswati, he said.

The police investigation said six Telugu-speaking persons had fired at Saraswati and others and a trained group were guarding the ashram at Jalespeta in Kandhamal during the incident.

Refusing to divulge identity and religion of the mastermind behind the killing, the IG said Maoists only executed the crime.

While the motive behind Saraswati’s killing was clear, the sleuths gathered evidence against the people who plotted the crime not realising that it would trigger such large-scale violence, he said. (TOI)

 

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India PM warns on religious hatred

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

Al Jazeera English:

 

India’s prime minister has said that increased religious and ethnic tensions are threatening the country’s social stability and blamed those “encouraging” hatred and violence.

“There are clashes between Hindus, Christians, Muslims and tribal groups. An atmosphere of hatred and violence is being artificially generated. There are forces deliberately encouraging such tendencies,” Manmohan Singh said on Monday.

Against a backdrop of religious unrest in eastern Orissa and tribal clashes in southern Karnataka, Singh said the violence threatened India’s proud “inheritance” of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-caste society.

“Perhaps the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today is the assault on our composite culture … we see fault-lines developing between, and among, communities,” he told a conference of chief state ministers in the capital, New Delhi.

In August, at least 35 people were killed in Orissa after the death of a hardline Hindu priest and four of his followers sparked violence between Hindus and Christians.

Indian Maoists claimed responsibility for killing Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, saying he was forcing tribal people to reconvert to Hinduism.

They also claimed that the state government had “made it look like Christian groups [were] responsible for the attack”.

But Hindu hardline groups rejected the Maoist claim, saying Saraswati opposed conversions to Christianity and his elimination could only benefit Christian missionaries active in the area.

In India’s northeastern Assam state, 50 people were killed in clashes between Muslim migrants and tribal groups earlier this month.

Curfew imposed

 
 

The prime minister’s warning came as police imposed a curfew in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh two days after the latest clash between Muslims and Hindus which left three people dead.

The country has also been rocked by a series of bomb blasts targeting major cities this year which killed more than 100 people killed.

A home-grown Islamic group, the Indian Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, saying they were in revenge for attacks on Muslims across India.

Singh said in his speech that “there can be no compromise with terrorism, and terrorists have to be dealt with firmly”.

“We need to meet today’s mindless violence with the requisite amount of force but must also ensure that this is tempered by reason and justice which is the normal order of governance,” he added.

India, which is majority Hindu with a large Muslim minority, is officially secular.

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Scared Christians in Kandhmal turn to Hinduism

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

On Sunday, Pope Benedict the 16th made a pointed appeal for an end to violence against Orissa’s Christian minority.

The Archbishop of Cuttack has petitioned the Supreme Court seeking CBI probe into the Nun rape case. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Orissa government to protect Christians and arrange for extra security in the relief camps.

The situation in Kandhmal, one of the worst affected districts, remains tense.

Terrorised by the communal riots and having to choose between faith and survival, dozens of Christians in Kandhmal are embracing Hinduism, only to ensure they get back to their homes and live in peace.

On Sunday, 18 Christians in Sarangad, who converted to Hinduism, claimed it was purely a voluntary decision.

“We were born to Christian parents and stuck to the faith for so long. But we have realised we get nothing out of being Christians. So we decided to return to Hinduism. No body has forced it on us,” said Krishna Chandra Nayak, former Christian, Sarangad.

Under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act of 1967, anyone seeking religious conversion needs to apply to the Collector and wait for proper police verification to ensure it is not being done under coercion or inducement.

But in Kandhmal on Tuesday the rules are different. You have to apply only to the local VHP head in a prescribed format and the wish will be quickly granted.

“These people had on their own given a written undertaking that they had joined the Christian faith but now they want to return to Hindu fold. I am only catering to their wishes,” said Adikand Patra, Hindu priest.

The 12,000-odd Christians, who are still in relief camps fear they will be killed if they don’t become Hindus. But the state government has done little to allay such fears. (NDTV)

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‘Nun rape was shocking, savage’

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

The communal violence in Orissa continued for days. Nearly 15,000 Christians are refugees now. Don’t you feel accountable personally? 

We have been taking action from the very start of the violence. I visited the district to bring peace and calm. An officer has been appointed as a special administrator of Kandhamal. He will look into the problems of land and false certificates that cause tension between STs and SCs.

Have you also sent a tough political message to the Sangh Parivar, of which the BJP, your ally, is as much part as the Bajrang Dal?

Over 1,000 people have been arrested. These include members of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. We will brook no violence or any breaking of the law.

Haven’t the BJP and Sangh Parivar done you great disservice? They were behind the Graham Staines incident and also last year’s December riots

In the eight-and-a-half years that I have been CM, there have been two communal incidents, including the one in December 2007. Both were in Kandhamal that is among the 30 districts we have in the state. There are more than one lakh Christian in Kandhamal. At the beginning of the violence, there were a maximum of 20,000 in the relief camps. Now ten thousand of them have left the camps. I am sure more will be leaving soon. My job is to see that law and order is maintained; that peace is restored; that the law comes down heavily on anyone involved in violence, communal or otherwise; and to deal in a humane and caring way with the suffering people. 

But Chief Minister, don’t you feel personally betrayed by the Sangh Parivar?

I repeat to you again that people from extremist organizations who have been involved in these crimes have been arrested. The law will take its course.

Will you support a Central ban on the Bajrang Dal?

We have heard media stories about it. That will be the Centre’s decision. My job is to ensure that that anyone who commits a crime is arrested.

That means you do not support banning the Bajrang Dal.

Bans etc. are in the hands of the Central government.

Will you implement the ban?

We are obliged to implement anything that’s legal. But let me put it this way…. We have taken stringent action against those involved.

So, you say if the Centre proscribes the Bajrang Dal, your government will be obliged to implement it.

Let me clarify. Many people at the NIC meeting from all sides thought that banning an organisation does not work. But the law will take its course against those who commit crimes.

That’s another matter. If there is a ban, will you implement it? You said you’d be legally obliged to do so…

I said whatever any government is legally obliged to do, it will obviously have to do.

If there is another Kandhamal type incident, what shall be your political response vis-à-vis the BJP? It’s after all a political problem.

I am not an astrologer. I do not want communal violence to return to any part of my state. I do not want to speculate on the future.

Don’t you think a greater responsibility devolves on you to protect the Christians who aren’t a major vote bank in the predominantly Hindu Orissa?

I have been CM for over eight years during which only two communal incidents have happened. Staines was murdered during the Congress rule in 1999.

But the same forces were behind it…

It was a great tragedy, a horrible crime. I then was a Union Minister and visited Keonjhar after the incident. It was a terrible thing. But it did happen.

The BJP’s Kharabela Swain first said the Christians, not the Maoists, killed the Swami. But after the Maoists claimed the murder, he said the VHP leader was slain by Maoists who are Christians….

Our crime branch will get to the truth. We have also ordered a judicial inquiry into murder and the consequent communal violence.

Who are they? Are they Maoists, Christians or Christian Maoists?

Let the crime branch get to the truth.

The Nun’s rape was shocking…

Yes, shameful and savage…

(Hindustan Times)

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CRPF Personnel killed in Kandhamal

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

A staffer of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was killed by a mob as fresh violence broke out in Orissa’s troubled Kandhamal district, police said Tuesday.

About six to seven unidentified people attacked two CRPF men on Monday evening at a village under Raikia police station area.

While one of them managed to escape unhurt, the other was killed in the attack, said District Superintendent of Police S Praveen Kumar.

“Police recovered the body on Monday night. He has injuries on his torso and head. It appears he was first beaten up by sticks and then killed by a sharp weapon,” Kumar said.

The fresh violence is a setback for the state government, which has been claiming that normalcy is slowly returning to the region.

Kandhamal district has been witnessing communal violence since August 23 after the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four others at his ashram by unidentified gunmen.

In retaliatory violence, thousands of Christian homes and churches have been burnt and at least 36 people killed.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in New Delhi on Monday that the trouble in Kandhamal was not just a communal problem and there were many other factors compounding the problem.

The district has a long history of ill-feeling and suspicion between Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes on a variety of issues such as forcible occupation of tribal land and jobs being secured on the basis of false caste certificates among others, Patnaik had said.

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Pregnant women bear the brunt of Orissa violence

Posted by jytmkh on October 13, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The relentless persecution of Christians in Kandhmal, forcing them to remain in relief camps scattered across Orissa, is now presenting

 

a new problem — unsafe deliveries by women. Stranded without access to doctors, hospitals or medical kits, most women are delivering in relief camps with the help of fellow refugees and — if they are fortunate — some anganwadi workers.

But not all have been lucky to be able to give birth. “There have been 10 miscarriages in the past week,” said Jyotirmoy Naik in Cuttack. “Nirmala Digal, Mita Digal, Ranju Naik, Padmini Naik, Mithila Naik — all miscarried because there’s no help for expecting women at the camps.”

Jacob Pradhan, a Christian priest, said: “In the last week, three women in Baliguda delivered babies, but all away from hospitals. They gave birth in unhygienic conditions and got the help of anganwadi workers. It’s a huge struggle.”

Rev Prakash Naik, who’s active in the Raikia camps, said even if women do manage to give birth, the conditions in the relief shelters are so bad that mortality is a big fear. “Just look around Vijaya school camp and you’ll see what I mean. Survival is a huge factor. Water has gathered in dirty, mosquito-infested puddles and people are defecating in the open.”

Many other miscarriages took place as Christians fled to the jungles and stayed there for days with attacks against them showing no signs of abating.

“Pregnant women suffered as they hid in the forests. While lack of food hindered healthy deliveries for the emaciated, others slipped and fell while running for their lives,” said Krishna Kanta Naik, a social worker in Baliguda.

“Nine women have delivered at the camps in the past week, but the children are very unhealthy.”

Caught in such testing times, the names of the babies, before their formal christening, reflect the travails of the mothers. While one infant is called Danga (riot), another is Sangram (rebellion). “Of course, the formal names will be given after 21 days, as is our ritual, but elders are calling them by these names,” said Nalin Naik.

“Because these are the only words that are there in the minds of people here right now.”

But what is also upsetting many in the camps, apart from risk-laden deliveries, is the inability to observe ‘ekusia’, the 21-day ritual marked by women when someone among them has a baby. (TOI)

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CSW urges EU to speak out on Orissa violence

Posted by jytmkh on September 27, 2008

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) yesterday sent letters to EU leaders urging the EU to use Monday’s EU-India Summit to make representations about the continued targeting of Christians by extremist Hindu nationalists in Orissa.

The letters to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Commisioner Ferrero-Waldner and General-Secretary Solana, coincide with reports of fresh arson attacks on churches and houses of Christians, and a mob assault on a police station following the arrest of two Hindus for rioting.

The correspondence also follows a resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday, which expressed “deep concern” at the violence and called on the state and national authorities “to do all in their power fully to protect the Christian minority”.

The letters describe the violence as “extremely serious”, and provide an assessment based on first-hand testimony from victims and eyewitnesses and the analysis of local NGO leaders, Christian leaders and Hindu civil society observers.

It notes the ongoing coercive conversions of Christians to Hinduism and calls on the EU to make nine recommendations to the Indian government. These include the deployment of a considerably larger security force, the provision of investigating officers and public prosecutors to expedite prosecutions and convictions as well as the provision of a more comprehensive package of relief to the displaced persons in Orissa.

CSW Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert said: “The 2005 EU-India Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan included a commitment to upholding human rights and a continuation of dialogue. In light of the extremely serious ongoing situation in Orissa, we request that EU leaders use Monday’s Summit to raise this issue and urge the Indian government to take decisive action.

“To protect the Christian community the violence must be brought under control and the victims assisted in filing cases. The perpetrators and those inciting violence must be prosecuted and the root causes of the aggression, including the propagation of anti-Christian hatred, must be addressed.

“Until this happens, we believe that Kandhamal will continue to be locked in violence which seeks the elimination of the Christian community in that district.” (Christian Today)

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