Still cases of discrimination Dalits and tribal Christians
Update Thursday, 06 March 2008
Kandhamal district, Orissa
Christian leaders in Orissa continue to report scattered cases of
discrimination two months after major violence broke out
Dalit and Tribal Christians. Numerous reports are surfacing of
treatment by government assessors who aren't giving the
promised compensation to people who have lost their homes.
Christian groups are challenging the legality of the Orissa
government ban on non-government groups giving direct aid to
Ten All India Christian Council (aicc) trauma counselors
assess and provide assistance to victims, and aicc legal
are helping many prepare cases for various courts. At least
Christian men have been arrested from Bamunigaon, the
of the Christmas 2007 violence, on various false charges. On
2008, Mr. Subash Naik was released on bail but six others
remain in jail.
On March 2, retired Justice Basudev Panigrahi arrived in
District for a one week investigation. He is heading the
"Commission of Enquiry on Kandhamal" appointed by the
government. Orissa aicc leaders are troubled by the fact that
no public announcements were made about his visit. They had
the state government to appoint an active, not retired, judge
to head the investigation into what caused the unprecedented
Government discrimination in relief efforts
Aicc is considering legal action against state government
who are not giving Christians the promised amount for their
destroyed homes. One Baptist pastor near Baliguda said there
Christian families in the village. All of their houses were
burned down by Hindutva attackers. The state government
50,000 ($1,250) for "completely damaged" homes, but
assessors only awarded Rs 10,000 ($250) to each family and
additional Rs 10,000 would be given later since their homes
were "partially damaged".
Ever worse, when the families went to clear the debris of their
homes and begin reconstruction, local Hindus stopped them.
Continued Harassment of Dalit Christians
On Feb. 24, 2008, the leader of the Hindu nationalist
(Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) spoke to about 5,000
activists in Berhampur, Orissa. The city is in Ganjam district
borders violence-hit Kandhamal district. To the relief of
Christians, K.S. Sudarsan did not give a violent or provocative
and there were no attacks on Christians. However, the police
and local authorities forced local churches to change the timing
their Sunday worship services from morning to late afternoon.
one local Christian leader noted, this is subtle discrimination
because he's never seen a Hindu meeting forced to change its
due to rally by another religious community.
The Orissa aicc state chapter president spoke to a central
intelligence officer before the meeting and asked for deployment
at churches. As a result there were police at all the churches in
Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.