Book on Kandhamal raises Questions on Orissa Govt’s Role

NEW DELHI, India – On April 8, 2009, a book on the anti-Christian violence that rocked the Kandhamal district of Orissa has claimed that the carnage was orchestrated and not a spontaneous reaction to the murder of Hindu religious leader.

The book ‘Kandhamala blot on Indian Secularism’ by Anto Akkara, a senior journalist was released by veteran journalist and social activist Kuldip Nayar here.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Akkara, who visited Kandhamal six times after violence erupted following the murder of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati on August 23 last year, said the incidents were not spontaneous, but part of a planned genocide.

He said the long, circuitous route along which Swami Lakshmanananda’s funeral procession was taken was a ”ploy to whip up communal passions and execute the anti-Christian agenda that had been chalked out much earlier and put to test on a limited scale during Christmas in 2007.

The procession moved like an oyster along zigzag and rugged paths covering nearly 250 kms over two days instead of half the distance it should have taken along the main roads and should have been completed in few hours, had they taken the body straight to his native place,” he pointed out.

He said three-fourths of the houses destroyed (official figures say 3900 though Christian organisations put the figure at over 5000) were in Raikia, Tikabali, G Udaigiri and Nuagam blocks. These blocks should not have been covered by the funeral procession, if the shortest route had been followed, he added.

He also flayed the Government for standing as a mute spectator during the incidents and later trying to hide the actual number of those killed.

While the Orissa Government has acknowledged only 32 riot related deaths, he said an affidavit containing names of 75 killed have already been submitted to the Supreme Court by the Christian organisations.

”The result–not only the family of the dead would not get compensation both from the Centre and the state government, this would also ensure that that the culprits will not be touched by law, as the murders are not acknowledged by the state government,” he said.

He also pointed out that only 633 arrests have been made though 11,348 have been named in 784 FIRs charged with serious offences like murder and rioting.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Nayar emphasised on the need to ”secularise” Hindus, and said urgent steps should be taken to ensure that incidents like those that rocked Kandhamal did not recur.

”We must do something to secularise the Hindus. Minorities are gradually feeling helpless. We have been giving them mere lip service and not sharing the one citizen-one law rule. Majority community members must introspect and feel that minorities are as much citizens of this country as they are, otherwise it will be a sad day for democracy,” he said.

He said minorities should not be driven to the conviction that they will not get justice in this country.

Swami Agnivesh, who was also present at the function, expressed regrets that the perpetrators of the violence had been given tickets by the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

Accusing the BJD-BJP government in the state of being ”partisan”, he pointed out that not only social activists like himself but even the Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal were prevented from going to Kandhamal.

He also said the Centre too did not take any strong action.

Mr Kamal Mitra Chenoy of Jawaharlal Nehru University, who also spoke on the occasion, said the state governments should be held solely responsible for such carnages. ”The Union Government should also order under Article 256 and 257 of the Constitution to carry out provisions of the law. Plus, human rights machineries should be strengthened too as their reports present a stronger case in the courts of law,” he said.

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