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500 Christians killed in Orissa violence
Published on 6 Nov. 2008 12:32 AM IST
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A report by fact-finding team of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) which visited Kandhamal from October 15 to 16 has stated that more than 500 Christians were killed, 200 Christian villages, 127 Churches and prayer halls either destroyed or burnt during Orissa violence . A mailed report issued by a member of the fact-finding team, J P Minz said the team visited affected villages and relief camps, met District Magistrate (DM) and various police officials of Kandhamal district. The official figure of deaths has been reported to be 31. The report however said that a senior government official on condition of anonymity informed that he himself consigned 200 dead bodies to flames after collecting them in a tractor from the jungles. Based on the intensity and pace of killings, he estimated the number of those killed to over 500. According to the report, the victims in all the relief camps unanimously told the fact-finding team that it was the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres who sowed the seeds of communal division in the villages. “They used to organize meetings of the Kandha tribals and incite them to attack the Christian hamlets and also provided funds for doing this” it stated. It said the incidents of killing, rape and looting were carried out in full view of police who remained mute spectators. The District Magistrate’s (DM) told the team that the relief camps have been reduced to seven from 15. It said there were 12,641 people. According to him, breakfast, meals, supplementary food meant for children, and iron and calcium tablets for pregnant women are available in these camps, the report stated. One doctor was available for round the clock checking, books were available for children and also regular reading sessions. Blankets, sarees, buckets and mugs and similar essentials have also been provided, the DM told the visiting team. The team who visited Phulbani, Tikabali, Ji Udaygiri and Rakiya relief camps found that the inmates of the camp were living in “extremely bad conditions”. For breakfast, the victims were provided with only 50 grams of chura (beaten rice) and rice-dal for meals.It also found out that the visiting doctors tell patients that medicines were not available. There was no arrangement for pregnant women. The report stated that the Sangh outfits were campaigning to send back the CRPF and that the Nikhil Utkal Kui community was threatening to launch an armed movement. It said the riot-victims were are afraid to go back to their villages as they have been threatened to that if they return they will. The rioters are also proclaiming that only Hindu converts will be hacked into pieces if they return. The CPI (ML) fact-finding team concluded that the violence was: a “pre-planned anti-Christian communal assault, and in no way was it a ‘clash’ between adivasi (tribals) and dalits”; had full support from the Biju Janta Dal Government and executed by VHP and Bajrang Dal; the Sangh’s propaganda about ‘indiscriminate religious conversion’ was a far cry from facts, as the Christian population of Orissa is only 2.5 per cent of the total population. The fact-finding team demanded: banning of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (BD); resignation of chief minister, Naveen Patnaik holding him responsible for the violence; immediate arrest of the accused in the riots; reconstruction of all houses, churches, schools, hostels, hospitals and other demolished social-religious structures by the Orissa government; that the relief camps be run for another six months and proper civic arrangements for food, medicine and sanitation made in these camps; arrangements be made for registering First Information Reports (FIRs) related to the communal violence at all police stations and initiation of peace process and guarantees be made for reopening and running of schools, hospitals and other institutes run by the Christian missionaries.

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