23 March 2018

02/10/2009 INDIA

With political discrimination in the wake of pogroms, Orissa Christians cannot vote

In Kandhamal refugees are left off voters’ list. More than 70,000 have no papers, segregated in refugee camps, far from their villages. They might find it impossible to vote in the upcoming federal and local elections, scheduled for April and May.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Orissa’s anti-Christian pogroms are having more political fallout. After being on the receiving end of violence last August Christians now could experience outright political discrimination in the upcoming April-May elections.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) is warning that more than 70,000 Christian voters might not be able to exercise their right to vote in federal and local elections. Some 50,000 Christians who fled their villages at the height of the anti-Christian violence and tens of thousands who followed them afterwards into neighbouring states are now without identity papers or voters’ cards, which were burnt during the pogrom, unable to go back home.

GCIC National President Sajan K. George wrote to the chief election commissioner and the Election Commission of India, urging them to rapidly find a way to have the names of Christian voters on the voters’ lists.

“For us the fact that the names of voters forced into refugee camps are not on voters’ lists is a sign of bad faith’. Mr George said. Depriving someone of their voting right “is a way to disenfranchise and stifle the Christian minority.”

The authorities in Kandhamal district in association with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are planning to hand out new identity cards and duplicates of electoral photo identity cards (EPIC) to the population. However, unless refugees go back home they cannot get them.

Local sources told AsiaNews that refugees cannot go back to their home villages because majority Hindus still claim that they were forcibly converted and continue to discriminate against them.

“A man left a refugee camp to go back to Nuaschia village to fix his home which had been destroyed during the attacks. After a whole day of work removing the rubbles he went back to the camp for the night. The next day he was back in the village to continue working on his house, but found it full of human excrements,” a source said.

“The government has allocated so little money, 10,000 rupees (US$ 200), to compensate people who had their homes destroyed or damaged,” a Christian from Kandhamal said.

The government “also said that it was safe to go back to our villages. But the fact is that it is not; there still is fear and insecurity. Many Christians have accepted the money but bought shacks in other villages. None of them have yet to go home.”  (NC)

See also

20/02/2009 INDIA
Orissa: violence continues, another Christian killed
Hrudayananda Nayak, 40, disappeared Wednesday evening. His lifeless body was found in the forest near the village of Rudangia whose residents are predominantly Christian. Eyewitnesses say that a group of Hindu extremists stopped him on his way home. This is the third murder since October after widespread anti-Christian violence in August and September of last year.

04/03/2008 INDIA
Orissa survivors, UN ‘political refugees’
The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians makes a proposal to that effect, blames government for doing “nothing to ensure the safety” of victims. Hyderabad archbishop complains that anti-Christian violence is getting worse by the day.

12/05/2009 INDIA
Orissa government cuts death toll from anti-Christian pogrom
The authorities reject the list of dead submitted by the diocese of Bhubaneshwar. The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians says the government is reducing the number relying “false justifications” in an attempt “to cut compensation to the victims.” In Kandhamal tensions remain high as Hindu extremists try to storm a refugee camp at night.

07/04/2014 INDIA
Christian leader wants to see a "new" democratic India that is against corruption and for the elderly
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), lays out an "agenda" for the new Indian government. He talks to AsiaNews about the discrimination experienced by Christian and Muslim Dalits, the gap between rich and poor, and the need to empower women. He focuses on people with disabilities, who are still the victims of "of a medieval and retrograde mind-set that keeps them on the margins of the community."

16/12/2009 INDIA
New attack against a church in Karnataka, the fourth in four days
Stones are thrown at the Grotto of Saint Anthony in the village of Kolaigiri. It is the 66th act of violence against the Christian community in Karnataka. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, the authorities in BJP-run States ignore “a rising culture of violence and terror against minority Christian communities.”

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