Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - Land to bury the dead in a dignified manner, appointments and government support for numerous schools run by minorities, justice for the pogroms of 2008, which caused casualties and devastation. These are the requests that the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Msgr. John Barwa, has forwarded to the prime minister of the Indian state of Orissa in an open letter.
In the seven point text, the bishop raises some urgent problems for the Christian community and other religious minorities. He begins with a fact: "Christians are the second largest religious community in Bhubaneswar: there are 20 thousand followers of Jesus. And yet we only have one Christian cemetery. In hospitals of the area there are many Christians by the Member of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh: if they die and have no family, we have to bury them here”.
Nevertheless, the government does not give enough space: "In some cases we are forced to bury even four people in the same lot, and that's unethical. We ask you to provide us the land we need to bury our dead”.
The second point is the issue of teachers for many schools managed by minorities in Orissa, but the government does not appoint new ones when seniors are retiring. Funding is also needed for the maintenance and renovation of facilities. "They are also used real commissions that support underrepresented communities and their members: They are an urgent requirement to help the most needy".
The last points are dedicated to the pogroms in August 2008 that devastated the area. Kandhamal district, on the basis of false accusations, Hindu extremists unleashed the most violent persecution against the Christian minority in Indiaian history.
These pogroms, writes the bishop, "forced 56 thousand faithful to flee and caused the looting and the burning of 5,600 houses in 415 villages. According to government figures 38 people were confirmed dead, while in fact the dead are at least 90 ".
Furthermore, Msgr. Barwa notes "those found guilty for this tragedy are still at large. Of 3,232 complaints lodged with the police only 825 cases have been opened, including 302 arbitrarily closed for 'lack of evidence'. Out of 35 murder cases, 33 have been shelved. The rape of a nun led to the conviction of one man".
This climate of impunity, he writes, "comes from fundamentalists groups who are supported by political parties that orchestrate, manage, instigate and carry out actions against the Christian minority. Therefore the culprits enjoy a political patronage whose real role has not yet been understood. We ask you, sir, for a thorough investigation: today the administration is affected to the detriment of poor Christian victims".
Three Confirmation ceremonies were held in the district. In 2008, the Indian state was the scene of the most violent anti-Christian pogroms. 175 young people confirmed in the parish of St. Peter of Pobingia; 88 other young people in the parish of Saint Sebastian in Saramuli; 271 young people from the parish of St. Joseph of Godapur.