(Agenzia Fides) – “There are many little-known and never recounted incidents which occurred in the district of Kandhamal. Justice was denied to the most vulnerable and marginalized people such as Adivasi and Dalit Christians. The poor and the marginalized do not receive justice: this is a serious matter of concern for all of us if we want to save the Indian Constitution. The old saying is really true: Justice delayed is justice denied”: This is what A.P. Saha, a judge of the High Court of Delhi told Fides, presenting a new research on anti-Christian massacres that occurred in Orissa in 2008. The research, signed and published by two authors, lawyers Vrinda Grover and Saumya Uma, offers unusual and unpublished stories, revealing the shortcomings in managing justice to the victims.
Commenting on the publication, John Rebeka, activist for human rights, recalls the extent and the consequences of that campaign of violence: “Violence in Kandhamal severely affected women and children, obstructing the path of education. 600 villages were destroyed, 5,600 houses were looted, 295 churches and other places of worship, 13 schools, and homes for leprosy patients were destroyed. About 56,000 Christians of Kandhamal became homeless. The faithful were told that the condition in order to stay in that district was to become Hindus. This is the reality of the tragedy of Kandhamal”. “The judicial system is slow in ensuring justice for the minorities in the country”, said lawyer Ramachandran, invoking the “right to freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution”.
Speaking of her own research, lawyer Saumya Uma tells Fides: “Hindu fundamentalists have intimidated witnesses in courts, threatening them with death. There was no conducive atmosphere to release her testimony. As a result all the more severe cases, or with the highest number of defendants have been resolved with dismissal or aquittal. Currently the defendants move freely, while the innocent victims live in fear and hiddeness. This is the real situation in Kandhamal, nine years after the incident. Among Hindus and Christians in local communities we are yet to restore confidence and brotherhood”.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover, another author of the research, told Fides: “I have investigated the violence in Kandhamal: there are the responsibilities of the civil and judicial administration. The district administration was paralyzed for three or four days. No relief was brought to the victims. The victims, who fled into the forests, were deprived of minimum services, such as food and water”. The authors speak from a perspective that is not sectarian or communitarian, claiming to act “for human beings and humanity”. The two legal experts are launching the appeal to do justice, “re-opening the court cases on the victims of Orissa”.