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Justice still pending for Kandhamal victims

The criminal justice system in India is supposed to provide justice to the victims but the criminals are benefitting from it, says Saumya Uma, the author of “Kandhamal: Introspection of Initiatives for Justice 2007-2015”. She was speaking at the launch of the book along with a panel discussion on Wednesday evening at St. Joseph’s College. The Kandhamal incidents had to do with Hindutvavadis launching violent attacks on Christians in Orissa following the murder of the Hindu religious leader Swami Lakshmananatha Saraswathy allegedly by Maoists.

The book talks about the Kandhamal incidents and the life of the victims after the violence. The marginalised Dalit and Adivasi Christians were subjected to horrific violence. From August to December 2008, the members of Hindutva- affiliated groups killed around 70 to 100 people and raped Christian women. Witnesses were treated like criminals and threatened by the accused when cases were launched.

“Even after the violence, the victims are suffering and their life is miserable. There has been a failure of responsibility by the government as well as the police. Victims are deprived of security and privacy in the camps they live in. The compensation for the damaged houses was given in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner and the victims received only half of the money of Rs 20,000 sanctioned to reconstruct the damaged houses,” said the author.

“The majority of the people in the region were Dalits and tribals of low social status. This shows the failure of our law system and the present scenario in our country is similar to the communalism that was practised in Kandhamal,” said Prof. V S Elizabeth, panellist in discussion. Shiva Sundar, an activist, said the motive of the present government is to bring in Ram Rajya which affects secularism. Some of the laws which have been implemented recently unveil the hidden agendas of the Hindutvavadis, he added.