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Observe Kandhamal Day On August 25, 2014

By Ram Puniyani & Dhirendra Panda

15 July, 2014

Dear friends,

Perhaps you are aware that more than on August 25, 2008, a major communal violence on the people of Kandhamal took place as a continuation of communal hatred and violence which well established as an organised scheme. The communal violence spread to different parts of Odisha and outside Odisha. Over 300 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, several people were killed, raped and educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. Around 56,000 people have been displaced. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism by the Sangh Parivar have been reported. However, with all these incidents of violence, only a single person involved with the gang rape case is in jail today and at the same time several innocent persons have been charged with various false cases.

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, seven innocent persons are in jail today with fabricated cases and several innocent people have been charged various false cases including UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). The human rights activists in India have been struggling for the removal of the draconian law called UAPA for a long time.

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.

In this context we call upon all secular and human rights activists and organisations to express their concerns on the forthcoming Kandhamal Day on August 25, 2014. We feel that such expressions of concerns, public expressions, dissent and pressure on the present day governance is too important to see to it that such communal violence with the protection of State will not be repeated in future – either in Odisha or elsewhere in the world. Therefore, we appeal to you to join hands with our actions with the demand for justice for the survivors of communal violence in Kandhamal in as many ways as possible, such as:

1. Organising public protests demanding justice for the victims and survivors of Kandhamal in different places on Kandhamal Day on August 25, 2014.

2. Organising public meetings wherever possible.

3. Writing letters of your concerns to the Government of India and the Government of Odisha.

4. Organising public protests in front of the Indian embassies internationally.

5. Expressing your concerns on the media, facebook, websites, blogs, twitter and all other forms of communication through new technologies

6. Organising candle light vigils

7. Organising music programmes on communal harmony

8. Organising inter faith dialogues

9. Organising film screening programmes on communal issues

10. Organising painting or art exhibitions on the issue

11. Any other forms of asserting public non violent pressure on that may be best suitable to your imaginative mind.

We request your active participation in raising the issues of victims and survivors of Kandhamal so that justice is delivered not just for the people of Kandhamal, but also for all past, present and future victims of communal violence in India or abroad.

Ram Puniyani
Convener, National Solidarity Forum

Dhirendra Panda
Coordinator, National Solidarity Forum



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