Protest in solidarity

August 25th 5 pm Town Hall Bangalore

Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns

Exactly two years ago, one of the worst communal genocide attempts on the Christian community took place in one of the poorest districts of India, Kandhamal of Orissa, this gruesome incident has shaken the conscience of many in this country. Over 100 people including women, disabled, children, Adivasis and Daliths were killed . Three women were gang raped and many were injured. 295 churches were destroyed. Schools, colleges and even medical institutions were not spared.

Even now, thousands of people cannot go back to their villages. Many fear struck victims of Kandhamal, are still living in tents even after 2 years of violence. When all the premises of Indian Constitution are destroyed by a group of Sangh Parivar followers, it is a shame that the administration stood as either silent spectators or indirectly supporting the genocide attempt. The fact that the majority of the population of Kandhamal are Adivasis and Daliths has only aggravated the deliberate criminal negligence and connivance of the administration. The large scale displacement of Kandhamal victims in the last two years, hellish life in refugee camps and the breakdown of many family units under the pressure of poverty have affected the psychological status of this district. Many are still living with fear and trauma. Minor and adolescent girls are being trafficked under the guise of security and livelihood. Many children have dropped out of schools.

Widespread ostracisation of the Christians in Kandhamal has affected the employment of the adults and education of their children. A meager compensation given by the Government was not even enough to meet the immediate medical needs for many.The survivors of Kandhamal violence are still under threat and over 15,000 people cannot go to their own villages unless they convert to Hinduism. Those Adivasi and Dalith Christians who were forcefully converted to Hinduism have all gone back to Christianity. Out of 3,300 complaints filed by the victims in the local police stations, only 831 have been registered as FIR’s. Majority of the registered cases have not been investigated. Whatever shoddy investigation that has taken place has only reduced the scope for justice. The bias has facilitated the criminals to get acquitted one by one. Those who are acquitted feel more powerful today in front of the minorities.

The communal fascists did not stop at Kandhamal alone. The attacks on the Christians spread to over 10 states in India, breaking down the fundamentals of democracy and spiritual harmony. Karnataka state recorded the highest number of anti Christian attacks in India last year and it is keeping pace this year Unprovoked violence against fellow citizens in the name of religion is pernicious and it must stop forthwith The BJP regime in Karnataka is further communalising the situation to consolidate its casteist and communal constituency Its attempt to bulldoze the opinion of the people in relation to the Beef ban and the forced Cow Slaughter Bill is highly discriminatory It communal agenda is to target the food habits of the most vulnerable and the weak such as the Daliths, the Muslims and the Christians. Beef is a valuable source of protein to the worldwide and in India it is the cheapest form of meat consumed by the Daliths and the minorities who are predominantly undernourished.

The National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of over 55 organisations from different parts of the country strongly condemn the attacks on all religious minorities and appeal to all democratic forces to strongly unite and fight against the spread of communal fascism. We appeal to all peace loving people in the country to support the cause for justice in Kandhamal. The National Solidarity Forum demands:

Immediate prosecution of the police officials who failed to register FIR’s and allowed criminals to escape justice.

Prosecution of Policemen who supported the communal violence in Kandhamal.

Prosecution of all those who are responsible for forcible conversio9ns to Hinduism under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Transfer investigation to Central Bureau of Investigation/SIT

Full compensation for houses destroyed in mass arson. * Compensation for victims of gender violence

Compensation for loss of livelihood for two years

Full compensation to all widows/next of kin of those who died in the riots

Resettlement with security in home villages full land rights

Employment of men and women victims

Trauma counseling for children, women and men who are still affected communal violence

Facilitation of children, especially girls whose education is broken and those whose certificates are burnt

Facilitation of a large number of survivors whose documents of land and properties are destroyed

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

Repeal the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, which fuels prejudicial attitudes towards religious minorities

Establishment of a State Commission for Minorities, in the model of its national

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