Observe Kandhamal Day! Preserve Justice, Peace And Harmony! Protect Indian Constitution!
By National Solidarity Forum
09 August, 2015
Photo: Hindutva fascists destroying a church in the 2008 communal violence
On August 25, 2008 the biggest communal violence after Gujarat took place in Kandhamal in Odisha. Over 350 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 90 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. More than 56,000 people have been displaced. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism by the Sangh Parivar have been reported. This organized communal attack which was the biggest on the history of Christian community during the last three centuries, also spread to different parts of Odisha and other states as well. It is a matter of shame that the relief and compensation provided by the Government for the victims and survivors of Kandhamal have been minimal.
During the last one and a half years of Modi’s rule, we also witnessed major hate campaigns and violence on minorities in the name of `Ghar Wapasi’ in different parts of the country. Forced conversions in Kandhamal took place before the Ghar Wapasi campaign. Some of the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians who refused to convert to Hinduism were killed. During this period of Modi’s rule, we also heard the campaign call that by 2025, the entire India will become a Hindu State. We believe that such hate campaigns and violence deeply affect the very secular fabric which connect all diverse cultures, religions and faiths. Such politics of hatred is also in direct conflct with the meticulously drafted Indian Constitution, a creation by great Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
During the communal violence in Kandhamal, there have been more than 3,300 complaints, but only 820 odd FIRs were registered. The rest of the complaints were not even registered. Among these complaints, only 518 cases charge sheeted. The remaining cases were treated as false reports. And out of these 518 cases, 247 cases disposed off. The rest of the cases are pending before the sessions and magistrate’s courts. And among those cases which have been disposed off, many are already acquitted. In short, all the murderers, rapists, looters and destroyers are today running scot free. However, several innocent persons are in jail today with fabricated cases including the seven persons from minority community falsely implicated in different cases and many innocent people have been charged with various false cases under various draconian laws such as UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).
It is obvious from the above facts that the Government has failed either to provide necessary protection to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians or to provide justice for the victims and survivors.The National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of human rights organisations, concerned social activists, media persons, researchers, legal experts, film makers, artists, writers, scientists and many civil society organisations which organised various solidarity actions to support the demands of the victims and survivors of Kandhamal. We have observed and created enough pressure on the fact that the economic justice of relief and compensation has been minimal from the part of the Government. We hereby express our deep shock at the process of the criminal justice delivery system which is still not provided to the victims and survivors of Kandhamal violence in Orissa. We consider such violence on a community as an everlasting dark blot on Indian democracy, as well as the stature of India as a secular state and its commitment to deliver the basic protection of human rights to its citizens, particularly the minorities. While the governments at the centre and state, the police machinery, the legal system, the media and the Sangh Parivar are to be primarily blamed, every silent spectator on these events also have a role in the acceptance of such brutal violence on the marginalised Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians.
We therefore appeal to all secular, democratic and peace loving citizens of this country to remember August 25, 2008 as a day which the largest democracy called India should not have witnessed. We appeal to you to organize public meetings, seminars, protests and other forms of campaigns so that `No More Kandhamal’ will be repeated in Indian History. We appeal to you to organize events for one week around August 25, 2015 to mark the memory of Kandhamal. We appeal to you to express solidarity to the struggle of the people of Kandhamal, in order to provide adequate pressure on the governmental institutions to provide justice for the victims and survivors.
For further information, please visit: http://www.countercurrents.org/kandhamal.htm
Dr. Ram Puniyani (Convenor, National Solidarity Forum)
Dhirendra Panda (Coordinator, National Solidarity Forum)
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