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Call To Observe Kandhamal Day

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NEW DELHI, 24 AUG (EFI News): The Evangelical Fellowship of India ihas invited churches across the globe to join together to observe Kandhamal Day, in solidarity with victims of the communal violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa in 2008 and 2007.

Thousands of Christian minorities in the Kandhamal region of Orissa were victims of organized violence by Hindu fundamentalists for over nine months starting in August 2007 and even today are yet to obtain justice or rehabilitation. Human rights groups estimate that in the months of violence against Christian minorities over 100 people were killed, including women, disabled persons and children, adivasis and dalits. Three women were gang-raped and many injured. 295 churches, big and small, were destroyed. 13 schools, colleges, and offices of 5 NGOs damaged. About 30,000 people had to live in relief camps for months.

In the aftermath of the violence over 2,500 complaints had been registered but only 823 FIR have been registered. The two fast track courts in Kandhamal have since convicted 162 persons including five persons being granted the life sentence, for their role in the violence. However, 682 persons have been acquitted.

EFI, on the occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the Kandhamal Violence, has joined with the National Solidarity Forum (NSF) – a countrywide platform of concerned civil society organizations, to participate in the National level People's Tribunal on 22, 23 and 24th August, 2010 at the Constitution Club in Delhi. The NPT has a panel of Jury members consisting of persons of national repute and credibility with required expertise to spearhead the process. The process includes the review of relevant documents and reports, field studies, hearing testimonies of survivors, witnesses, victims, concerned human rights' activists, civil society organisations, experts, government representatives, local organizations and others. The process will culminate in a three-day public hearing on 22nd, 23rd and 24th July, 2010 at the Constitution Club in New Delhi.

The National Solidarity Forum has presented a list of demands to the Central and State governments at the Protest march in Delhi. These are:

1. Immediate prosecution of the police officials who failed to register FIRs and who have allowed criminals to escape justice;

2. Prosecution of policemen who supported the communal violence in Kandhamal;

3. Prosecution of all those who are responsible for forcible conversions to Hinduism;

4. Transfer investigation of the Kandhamal violence to the Central Bureau of Investigation or SIT;

5. Full compensation for the over 5,600 houses destroyed in mass arson;

6. Compensation for victims of gender violence;

7. Compensation for loss of livelihood for two years;

8. Full compensation to all next of kin of those who died in the riots;

9. Resettlement of victims with provision of security in their villages;

10. Employment for men and women victims;

11. Trauma counselling for children, women and men;

12.  Assistance for children, especially girls who cannot continue their education as their school certificates have been burnt;

13.  Assistance for a large number of survivors whose documents of land and property were destroyed;

14.  Implementation of a basic witness protection scheme and provision of assistance and remuneration to victims in order to ensure their testimony in court;

15.  Repeal of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, which fuels prejudice towards religious minorities;

16.  Establishment of a State Commission for Minorities, on the model of the national Commission for Minorities;

17.  Prosecution of District, state and administrative officials for their dereliction of duty during violence and rehabilitation.

 

 
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 Number of people affected : 151,934
Loss of life : 72
Villages affected : 1,296
Houses destroyed/damaged : 118,833
Relief being distributed to : 3,500 families
No. Catholic houses lost: 560
Number of medical camps held : 22