Published on 04 Sep, 2015
Written by - Brinda Karat
It is a matter of shame and sorrow that the Christian community in Kandhamal is subdued not because of its lack of courage but on account of the failure of the Centre and the State, the investigative agencies and the criminal justice system, including courts, to ensure it justice
It is seven years since the horrific communal violence against the Christian community engulfed the district of Kandhamal in Odisha, in August 2008. Recently, thousands of survivors gathered at the panchayat headquarter town of Raikia under the banner of the Kandhamal Peace and Solidarity Committee. It was not to relive the past. Survivors of communal violence rarely want to experience the trauma and the pain which rises to the surface of their hearts and minds with every retelling of those dark and terror-filled days.
The demand was straight and simple — that they be allowed a future.
Agenda of polarisation
On the surface, things look better. In the 2014 Odisha Assembly election, the Hindutva forces suffered a resounding defeat in this district, losing in all the three Scheduled Tribe reserved Assembly segments. In the previous elections in 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had put up Manoj Kumar Pradhan, a man accused in two cases of murder of Christians and another 10 cases of arson and violence. He won from G. Udaygiri despite being in jail.
The BJP reaped the harvest of the blood of innocents. Pradhan came out of jail within weeks of his election and it was an open secret that he used his clout to sabotage the processes of justice — by intimidating witnesses and instructing the police to go slow in the cases. But this changed in 2014, when the Congress and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) emerged victorious. The Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, which was won by the BJD candidate, comprises the Phulbani, G.Udaygiri and Baliguda Assembly segments in the district. The BJP candidate was relegated to third place. In the Assembly elections, the Baliguda seat was won by the BJD candidate. In G.Udaygiri, the Congress candidate won, while in Phulbani, the BJD emerged victorious.
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