Orissa: more fears about radical Hindu violence on 23 August
» 08/16/2011 16:59
The fundamentalists plan to celebrate “Protecting the Faith” day to commemorate Swami Laksamananda Saraswati, who was killed by Maoists. His murder unleashed a wave of violence against Christians, who were innocent of the crime. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, calls for the most stringent of measures to prevent violence.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council (AICC) and member of the National Integration Council of the Indian government, has released a letter, sent to all levels of government (local, state and federal) in which he warns against possible violence on 23 August, day in which radical Hindus plan a demonstration.
“As you are aware,” Dayak writes, “the 23rd of August marks the third anniversary of the killing of VHP leader Lakshmananda Saraswati in Kandhamal, in Orissa, by Maoists,” which was followed by a “ pogrom against the Christian Dalit and Tribal community of that region. That led to over 56,000 Christians homeless, almost 300 churches destroyed, more than 5,600 houses burnt. A nun and two other women were raped and many molested. The memory of that violence has scorched the psyche of our community.”
As recent trials against the real murderers show, Christians were indeed wrongly accused of killing the Hindu leader (see Nirmala Carvalho, “Orissa pogroms: police clear Christians from the death of Hindu religious leader,” in AsiaNews, 11 May 2011). Yet the conviction of the real culprits has not been enough to reassure Christians who still suffer from discrimination and violence.
“Now the Sangh Parivar is saying that it will celebrate 23 August as ‘Protecting the Faith’ day,” Dayal’s letter says. In fact, the Hindu radical movement “has been handing out leaflets to that effect.”
However, “Our community is afraid that troubles and violence might break out unless the state government does not take the most stringent of measures in Kandhamal and other districts.”
This is why, “I am writing this to request that you call upon the State government do its duty for the minority community and reassure them there will be no untoward incident.”
Meanwhile, a delegation of German lawmakers has visited Kandhamal. During their stay, they called on Orissa’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, to take charge of the urgent situation in the district.
Led by Volker Kauder, chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the German lower house, the German delegation visited refugees in the Nandagiri camp.
“Christians still live in fear is the impression we got after meeting some of the victims of communal violence,” Kauder said.
“The fact that some perpetrators of the violence are still at large is an obstacle to reconciliation and long-term stability. It is a matter of concern and will be discussed with the Indian authorities,” he added.