21 February 2018

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09/03/2010 INDIA

More than 4,000 Christians victims of abuses and forced conversions in Orissa

In 20 villages in Kandhamal District hit by anti-Christian pogroms in 2008, Hindus continue to prevent Christians from participating in social life, including the use of public fountains and cutting wood in the forest. “they need to live a dignified life. The Orissa State government has an obligation to do something about it and protect Christians from this inhuman treatment,” the archbishop Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said.

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – Two years after anti-Christian pogroms broke out in the Indian state of Orissa, Hindus in some 20 villages in Kandhamal District continue to treat more than 4,000 Christians as social outcaste, pressuring them with force to convert. Beside fears, threats and total banishment from the local economy, Christians are not allowed to use public fountains or collect wood in the forest.

“People are living in misery,” said Mgr Raphael Cheenath, SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, at a press conference in Bhubaneswar last Monday. “They need to live a dignified life. The Orissa State government has an obligation to do something about it and protect Christians from this inhuman treatment,” he added.

The prelate urged local authorities to compensate those who suffered losses during the pogroms and now find themselves homeless. He slammed the puny sums given out so far, US$ 1,000 for destroyed homes and US$ 400 for damaged homes.

“The Orissa State Government must raise compensation, from Rs. 5 lakhs (US$ 1,000) to Rs. 20 lakhs (US$ 4,000) to rebuild damaged Churches, religious and public institutions, NGOs, including the furniture and other fixtures that were destroyed with the buildings in the violence,” Archbishop Cheenath said.

At the start, the government made an “arbitrary” assessment to determine victims’ compensation, and did so without consulting them to find out their needs. Thus, “About 12,500 people have been resettled in their houses;” however, “About 17,500 people are still displaced and have a right to be resettled by the state government,” the archbishop added.

Between December 2007 and August 2008, Hindu extremists killed 93 people, sacked and torched more than 6,500 homes, destroyed 350 churches and 45 schools. The pogroms displaced more than 50,000 people.

So far, most of the perpetrators of these crimes are free. Many witnesses scheduled to appear at trials taking place at the Kandhamal courthouse have been silenced through threats and acts of discrimination.

Between 22 and 24 August, victims, human rights activists and religious leaders organised a people’s court in New Delhi to shed light on what happened and push India’s central government to intervene.

See also

21/09/2010 INDIA
After the pogroms, the Church in Orissa working to remove fear and suspiciousness in people
On the International Day of Peace, people from different religious backgrounds took part joint activities in Kandhamal to promote interfaith dialogue between Christians and Hindus two years after anti-Christian pogroms broke out. “Efforts are being made to remove fear and suspiciousness among the people,” the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said.

17/04/2009 INDIA
Orissa: Christians in refugee camps vote but they are just a minority of all displaces people
The situation is calm in Kandhamal, the Orissa district most affected by Hindu violence. Tight security measures and the timely provision of identity papers allow Christians in refugee camps to cast their ballot. However, another 51,000 displaced Christians who are not in such camps have not been able to vote. Bhubaneswar bishop is “satisfied by the election process”, but stresses that ‘in the villages BJP supporters have threatened to expel Christians if they do not vote for their party.”

15/08/2016 14:58:00 INDIA - VATICAN
Msgr. Raphael Cheenath, Archbishop emeritus of Orissa's martyrs, has died

He died in Mumbai and not in Orissa because he had received death threats. He led the Church during the Kandhamal pogroms and fought for the rights of victims and survivors.

09/07/2008 INDIA
New attack against Christians in Orissa, an orphanage is destroyed and a parish church attacked
The reaction by the Sangh Parivar Hindu fundamentalist group is caused by the butchery of a cow. Last Christmas the same area saw the destruction of 13 churches and the killing of three people. Local bishop accuses the government of collusion with the attackers.

14/09/2010 INDIA
Orissa bishop slams forced conversion of Catholics to Hinduism
Cases have been reported in more than ten villages in Kandhamal District. In talks with the state’s chief minister, Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, calls for a greater effort to fight discrimination. “The state describes itself as secular; hence, it should not condone such violence,” he said.

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