State

Campaign for 7 Christians crosses 50,000

DIMAPUR | Publish Date: 7/13/2018 12:09:41 AM IST
On the threshold of the 10th anniversary of the orchestrated attack on Christians in Kandhamal district of Odisha in August 2008, the online signature campaign demanding the release of seven innocent Christians, languishing in jail since then, crossed the milestone of 50,000 signatures on July 11.
While thanking all those have joined the online campaign at www.release7innocents.com, journalist author Anto Akkara who has been spearheading the campaign, in a press statement on July 12, called for more signatures for the release of the seven – six of them illiterates, including one mentally challenged individual.
Akkara who has chronicled Kandhamal’s bloodshed and travesty of justice launched the online signature campaign on March 3, 2016 by bringing the illiterate wives of the innocents to New Delhi for the launch. The campaign  was launched by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar in the presence of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, Oscar Fernandes, Annie Raja of CPI, Swami Agnivesh, Shabanm Hashmi and others.
The seven Christians – Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Budhadeb Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalenseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanathan Badamajhi have been languishing in jail following the mysterious murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on the Janmashtami night - August 23, 2008. 
The press statement said that tollowing the Hindu leader’s murder, nearly 100 Christians have been killed and 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses plundered and torched in unabated violence that continued for weeks. Hindu masses - most of them illiterate - had been incited to take revenge on Christians after the slain Swami’s body was paraded across Kandhamal for two days.
A third judge of the trial court - after two judges were transferred – convicted the accused Christians to life imprisonment for the Swami’s murder in 2013 on the basis of a fabricated Christian conspiracy theory. Yet, the hearing on the appeal of the innocent convicts has been pending in the Odisha High Court. 
Each online signature generates three instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India and Chairman of the NHRC. On the second anniversary of the campaign, it has been modified to generate a fourth email to the High Court of Odisha as well.
The author laid bare the Kandhamal fraud and travesty of justice with his investigative book ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ that has been widely hailed by national celebrities and the media.

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