India: Orissa Persecution Update

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Orissa witnessed fresh incidents of violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa as late as January 2, 2008. The violence came in the wake of the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visit to the strife torn areas to take stock of the situation.

At least five shops were gutted and more than 10 houses set on fire at Gadapur near Brahmanigaon, the place where the communal tension first took place on December 24. The Christian-dominated village was among the worst-affected in the ongoing communal violence that began on the Christmas eve. According to local sources at least 400 houses and six churches were attacked and set on fire in this village on the 25th and 26th of December.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that ten people have died in the violence in various parts of Kandhamal district. The official toll stands at two persons.

Local sources have informed Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) that many Christian families continue to hide in forests and hills in fear of further attacks, without any access to food or water battling the cold. Their homes have been destroyed, property vandalised and family scattered. One hundred and forty two homeless families are at the relief camps set up at Baliguda.

EFI, along with other Christian agencies have met with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Vice-President, Mr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Union Home Minister Mr Shivraj Patil and Justice S. Rajendra Babu, Chairperson, Nation Human Rights Commission to apprise them of the situation. Christian groups have demanded an independent inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation, not the judicial inquiry proposed by the state government. Christian agencies have further demanded that adequate compensation be provided to families who have lost life and property due to the violence.

Director General of Police, Gopal Chandra Nanda in a press conference on Wednesday told reporters that 80 persons had been arrested for their role in the violence and cases had been registered against 40 of them.

The Government has announced that the families whose houses had been burnt down by the attackers would be provided with one dwelling unit each under the Indira Awas Yojana, a government scheme to provide housing. Those whose houses had been damaged partially would get Rs. 10,000 each as compensation. The next of kin of those killed in the violence would be given Rs. 1 lakh each as ex-gratia from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

EFI requests you to continue remembering the Christian brothers and sisters who have been affected by the violence in Orissa.

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,

General Secretary,
Evangelical Fellowship of India,
New Delhi, India

Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.