Why This Inaction on Kandhamal? Brinda Karat Asks Naveen Patnaik In A Strongly Worded Letter
15 September, 2015
Brinda Karat, former Member of Parliament and Polit Bureau member of Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) has sent a strongly worded letter to Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister Odisha, asking why he ignores the plight of the victims of anti-Christian communal violence in Kandhamal. In her letter, Brinda Karat asks why he has refused a hearing to the victims of the violence, even when the President of India gave them a patient hearing. She also raises the issue of total failure of the criminal justice system in relation to the Kandhamal violence.
Here is the letter in full:
Shri Naveen Patnaik,
September 14, 2015
Dear Shri Naveen Patnaikji,
I write to you in connection with the continuing injustice meted out to the victims of the Kandhamal anti-Christian carnage in 2008. I had occasion to meet with many of the victims when I visited them last month on August 30 and 31st. I am shocked that in spite of their several requests you have not cared to give them an appointment. In desperation they came to Delhi to meet the President who gave them a patient hearing on September 7th.
The case of a rape victim symbolizes the total injustice. This young woman, who incidentally is one of those who has been trying to meet you as part of the delegation, is a Hindu woman who was staying at that time with her Christian uncle. She was one of the thousands in the relief camp. On her return to the village after several weeks, she was picked up by a gang of criminals and gang raped. All the perpetrators are free men. The Government has not come forward to help her in any way, neither with a rehabilitation scheme of employment or even the cash component. She is a forgotten statistic. Surely your Government has a responsibility for assistance and rehabilitation of a communal riot rape survivor?
After seven years, the victims are still looking for justice. In the underestimated number of murders, the Government registered 35 murders of Christians. Of which 33 have been declared “closed.” The witnesses were terrorized as all the accused were out on bail. The Government did nothing to provide witnesses protection. Even those who were convicted and sentenced to life in two murder cases are out on bail. The Government has not appealed against the bail. The administration was so lax, if not conniving at the local level with the rioters, that seven years after the worst carnage against Christians, not a single one of those responsible is in jail. The sole exception is one of the accused in the gang rape of the nun, but even in this case, the other two are out on bail and the reports are that one of them is absconding.
It is the victims who are running from pillar to post, trying to appeal in the courts.
The compensation package for damaged houses has been so low that even today the houses are only partially built. Educational institutions and churches which were burnt are still not repaired. The compensation is discriminatory even compared to the inadequate compensation given to those affected in the anti-Sikh violence of 1984 or in other such cases. As you are no doubt aware only this month, the Central and Delhi State Government have worked out another compensation package with additional cash component.
In the murder case of Swamy Lakshmananda Saraswati, the Maoists had openly declared their responsibility. Yet the administration randomly picked up seven dalit and adivasi Christians, who have nothing to do with Maoists, manufactured evidence and got them convicted for a murder they had not committed. Recent evidence before the Naidu Commission of Enquiry exposes one of the key aspects of so-called evidence. A police officer of your Government Santosh Kumar Patnaik has in his statement admitted that the main document to prove conspiracy that is a register of the Beticola Church was found to be forged. He gave this evidence in June. Why has the State Government not acted on it to relook at the case against the “Kandhamal Seven” who have been wrongly accused and sentenced to life? When all the accused and even those convicted in cases of violence against Christians are all out on bail, why should these seven be denied bail? Why these double standards?
The delegation wanted to meet you because they believed that your stand against the communal forces in 2009 would extend to bringing justice to their innocent victims. I hope you will consider the issues I have raised in this letter and take appropriate steps.
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