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The Plight Of Kandhamal Communal Violence Surivivors

By Raphael Cheenath & Dr. Swarupanada Patra

A Memorandum to the Chief Minister,
Naveen Patnaik,
Bhubaneswar, 14th September, 2010.

1. Existence of camps

In spite of the fact that the relief camps were officially closed by the Orissa Government in the fist week of September, 2009, there are large number of victims living in more than a dozen make-shift shelters in Kandhamal. When the relief camps were closed in Sept, 2009, about 3500 refugees were sent out who had no other choice except live in temporary shelters. They live in the following villages even today ( Beheragaon, Tukangia, Phirigada, Godoguda, Penala, Dondingia, Tudubadi, Anandnagar, Telingia, Dagapadar, Sartaguda, Hatpada, Tatamaha and Badabanga)

2 Trafficking in Women

There are reports in the papers that large scale trafficking in women and girls are going on in Orissa. Communal violence has, perhaps, given an opportunity to the miscreants to prey on the hapless victims. Unless this is effectively stopped by the Government, Orissa too would be soon an established flesh trade centre.

3. Displacement, Rehabilitation

“Restitution and Rehabilitation to follow the international standards see in paragraphs 16-18 and 25-29 of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and paragraphs 52 to 68 of the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Developments based Evictions and Displacement, 2007”

4. Right to return to their own homes

The State should recognize the Internally Displaced Persons’ right to return to their homes and create all possible enabling conditions to facilitate such safe return accordance with the above standards. Today the refugees return with fear and after their return they still live in fear of further attacks.

5. Compensation Package

In order to estimate and determine compensation for the losses which the people have suffered an independent committee should be set up. The committee should take into account the opinion of the victims otherwise it would be only a one-sided calculation. Therefore, it is important to consult the victims to know how much property they have lost and how many lost their lives. In the case of Kandhamal communal valence the victims were never consulted. The compensation given to them has been, arbitrary and grossly inadequate, and possibly vindictive.

Compensation should be a package which should include not only houses, but the household things that normally should belong to a family and some financial assistance for the families who had no employment for nearly two years. Such package should take care of the needs of a family who has been displaced during violence.

6. The injured and the widows

Adequate compensation should be given to those injured during violence, widows whose husbands were killed or missing, the families of those who were killed. or missing.

7. The victims of communal violence should be approached with sympathy

From a humanitarian point of view compensation given to the victims should have been a sign of compassion and sympathy to the poor victims. In many cases, the rules and regulations were absolutely strictly imposed on the victims that even the compensating allotted to them was very slow in coming and in some cases not at all given to them. In communal violence where victims lose everything and suffer so much, the help should be given with a sense of urgency.

8. Wave of the loans

During the communal violence and its aftermath people had taken loan since they did not have any employment. Even now they are without any job since a large number of them are still displaced. Such loans could be waved off so that the victims could live without anxiety and earn something for their day to day living.

9. Settlement of land

Some of the victims do not have land potta, others have no land, some have disputed land. Unless these are settled the construction of houses can not proceed. On 25th July 2009, 58 cases for land settlements have been given to the Distinct Magistrate; unless these are settled , house construction slows down.

10. Forceful conversion to Hinduism.

It is reported that the refugees live in 27 villages in make-shift shelter. In more than ten (10) villages Christians are forced to live as Hindus. For instances, Betticola, Beheragaon, Kutulumba, Mundarigon, Kalingia, Santikia, Bindugan, Rotingia, Bodimunda and Dodopanka. This is totally contrary to the freedom of Religion Act which the Orissa Government upholds with great vigor. The Administration which claims secular credentials should not condone such violence.

11. Compensation to churches and religious houses

The RTI has recorded 233 churches and prayer halls, but it is estimated that there are 21 churches more which are not included in this list. During the communal violence in 2007 too about 200 churches and payer halls were destroyed. No consultation was made with the victims when compensation was fixed which is only a pittance and is not at all proportionate to the colossal destruction of property. In fact the compensation given to the churches amounts to about one tenth of the total cost.

12. Hate-campaign

The Government machinery should be alert to prevent hate-campaign that brews hate mobilization and religious and caste-based discriminative activities. The communal carnage in Kandhamal is the result of such hate-campaign that was going on in the State for decades, unfortunately unhindered by the State authorities.

13. Mob Rule is the order of the Day

It is a very dangerous development in the country and also in Orissa that the mob is taking over the responsibility of controlling the Law and Order situation. If two or three hundred hooligan can control the situation what is the use of police, courts and civil administration? If one or two hard cor criminals can take the whole administration, even the courts, for a ride, the very foundation of democracy is at stake. Daily shows on all the T.V. channels prove amply what we have said. Often the victims are victimized by the administration.

+ Raphael Cheenath, SVD Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar

Dr. Swarupanada Patra President, Orissa Minority Forum