Observe Kandhamal Day On August 25, 2017


70 years of freedom have passed. It is time for us to reflect on what it meant people of India – Dalits, Adivasis, minorities and other marginalised sections. Do we really have the moral strength to face another Kandhamal massacre in India? If not, it is too important that we remember and observe Kandhamal Day on August 25, 2017 and support the demands of the victims and survivors struggling for justice in Kandhamal.

Barely after ten days of celebration of Independence, India witnessed the biggest communal violence against the Christians in Kandhamal in Odisha in 2008. This is ninth year of Kandhamal Anniversary of the anti-Christian violence. We observe Kandhamal Day on August 25th to bring about communal harmony, peace and justice in the country. Over 395 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 100 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 in the history of Christian community during the last three centuries, also spread to different parts of Odisha and other states as well. The compensation provided by the Government for the victims and survivors of Kandhamal has been minimal.

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 were 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. According to study conducted by Supreme Court Adv Vrinda Grover and Law Prof Saumya Uma, it is reported that the conviction rate is as low as 5.13% of the charge sheeted cases. If you take complaints as a yardstick of justice process, it is just around 1% only.

None of the criminals responsible for destruction are in jail today. The murderers, rapists, looters and destroyers are today running scot free. However, seven innocent persons are in jail today with fabricated cases. It is too important that a free India wakes up in support of the demand for punishing the guilty and to free the innocents.

On the other hand, seven innocent Christians convicted for life on fabricated case of murdering Laxmananand Saraswati and four other hindu workers in Ashram in Kandhamal are in jail despite lack of credible evidences. The maoists have taken the responsibility; yet the seven persons are languishing in jail for last nine years. They should be released.

On August 26, 2017, over 10,000 people will gather in on a rally and public meeting starting from 10.00 am to 4.00 PM at G. Udayagiri in Kandhamal District. Nationally known people will address the gathering. The eminent speakers also include Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize (popularly known as Green Nobel Prize), Eminent Academician, Prof. Bijay Bahidar, poet Amiya Pandav, Nakul Nayak, the former MP from Kandhamal who raised his voice for Kandhamal survivors during and post Kandhamal violence. The demand of the victims and survivors are the following:

  1. Implementation of Supreme Court verdict of August 2nd, 2016

  2. Enhance upto 15 lakh for the death compensation in line of Muzzaffanagar violence cases. Enlisted the dead those who are not listed in death list for compensation and for criminal justice delivery system

  3. Reopen of 315 closed/acquitted cases of violence.

  4. Book for both state and non-state actors perpetrators involved in the communal violences; institute special inquiry into the district and police administration, who are in nexus with the communal forces

  5. Announce special package for repair and reconstruction of houses as recommended in a study by former UN Sepcial Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari upto 5 lakh and compensate those who lost their businesses. Enlist those who are not missed out by acts of commissions and omissions for swift compensation packages.

  6. Immediately establish Odisha Minority Commission

  7. Facilitate Minority schemes and scholarship in time bound manner and hold the officials responsible for any lapses and delays in implementations.

  8. Ensure minority community presence in important administrative machinery to ward off baised decision as well as for harmonious and participatory decision processes.

  9. Scrap Odisha anti-conversion law and Presidential Order 1950 para 3 to make religion neutral and delink it from affirmative action

  10. Constitute Citizens and community interface with the administration for effectively combating the communal forces

On this occasion, we at the National Solidarity Forum, a network of over 70 organisations in India, appeal to all of you to observe Kandhamal Day on August 25 and support the victims and survivors of Kandhamal. Your solidarity actions will be an inspiration for those who are struggling for justice. It would also be a strong step to protect the Indian Constitution to strengthen peace, justice and harmony in this free India.

Ram Puniyani (Convenor, National Solidarity Forum)

[email protected]

KP Sasi (Co-convenor, National Solidarity Forum)

[email protected] / Mob: 08593835669

Dhirendra Panda (Coordinator, National Solidarity Forum)

[email protected]/ Mob: 7894504585

Ajaya Kumar Singh (co-convenor, National Solidarity Forum)

[email protected] /Mob: 9437481805



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