Friday, 28 August 2009

To mark the first anniversary of the violent attacks on Christians by Hindu fundamentalists, Christians on Monday organized Inter Religious Harmony and Candle Light Homage in South Indian city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu State.
Christian Today India reported that around 800 human rights activists, secular thinkers, lay persons, pastors, priests and sisters participated in the event organized by the Ecumenical Christian Forum for Human Rights held at Arasaradi in Madurai city.
The forum has demanded full justice for the victims. The eight point demands made by the forum include providing education to displaced children and job opportunity to the affected women and youth.
It said, the government must “provide further compensation for those who have been affected by the violence, including covering the loss of crops, livestock and employment, and assess required levels of compensation on a case-by-case basis through certified independent evaluators.”
They also called on the federal government to bring in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the death of Hindu priest Lakhmanananda Saraswati Swami, whose death led to the subsequent anti-Christian violence from August 2008 onwards.
Following the swami’s death, Hindu mobs attacked Christians, burning their homes, shops, churches and orphanages. More than 30,000 Christians from Orissa were forced to take shelter in refugee camps for many months.
About 4,500 Christian homes were burned and 180 churches destroyed. At least 60 Christians were killed, according to the Orissa government’s report, but church leaders in Orissa report higher figures and have accused the government of intentionally undercounting the number of deaths.
The two Fast Tract Courts - I and II set up in the district is now examining 827 cases registered during the riots in which 10,000 people were named. Chargesheet has already been filed in 437 cases and investigation was on in other 354 cases, including the nun’s rape.
So far 6 persons have been convicted in the riots case. Five persons were sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment on 27 July and one person was earlier sentenced to four years imprisonment on on 29 June.
Rev. Dr. M. Gnanavaram, Principal of Tamilnadu Theological Seminary who presided over the event explained the demands and emphasized the urgency of actions to solve the issue of religious fundamentalism.
The historical background of the riots was spelt out by Father Jebamalai Raja and clearly gave the picture of the present condition of the victims in Kandhamal. He said actions must be done to bring justice to the victims immediately by the State and Central Governments.
Rev. Wilson Mohanraj invoked the Spirit and prayed for the suffering people of Kandhamal.
Last week, Open Doors, a persecution watchdog reported that more than 4,000 Kandhamal Christians are reportedly still stuck in squalid refugee camps, too scared to return to their villages and have called for Christians to pray for the “brothers and sisters remain homeless”.
There are an estimated 25 million Christians (about 2.3 percent of the population) in India. The majority of India’s population is Hindu.