Kandhamal survivors to hold first meeting

Bhubaneswar (Story By: Santosh Digal): The survivors of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, Odisha, are meeting for the first time to share their struggles to secure justice and dignity.

The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar is convening the meeting on Feb 9 at Divya Jyoti (light of Christi) Pastoral Centre at Konjamendi town in Kandhamal district of the eastern Indian state.

The place is 266 km of west of Bhubaneswar, the state capital.

“It is unique occasion when survivors coming together for the first time to share their struggles for securing justice and dignity. The meet aims at giving hope and building solidarity among the survivors,” said Father Ajay Singh, a human rights activist working among the victims of the anti-Christian violence.

“Parents have lost their children; children their parents; husbands their wives; wives their husbands and people their siblings. The loss in the deadly anti-Christian violence remains irreplaceable,” said the archdiocesan priest.

More than 100 survivors whose relatives were killed during 2008 violence are expected to attend the day-long event.

Father Singh said they hope to build fellowship among the survivors as the criminal justice delivery system collapsed with almost all accused set off free. “There is fear and anxiety among the relatives of those killed. The accused could intimidate and attack them for testifying before the courts.”

The priest also said through the meeting they wish to reach the stories of hope, faith and struggles of justice to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the highest Catholic body in the country. “Wish the Catholic Church leadership find time to hear the voices of the persecuted communities in persons,” he told Matters India.

Kandhamal was the scene of the worst anti-Christian violence India witnessed in its modern history. It lasted nearly four months claimed nearly 100 lives and rendered more than 50,000 homeless.

Father Manoj Kumar Singh, a local organizer and director of Janavikas (welfare of people), social service wing of the archdiocese, said as the meeting is taking place in the Year of Mercy, the Church leaders could find time to show solidarity with the Kandhamal survivors and join hands for securing justice and dignity for each one of the member.

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