Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Raphael Cheenath on Saturday said that both the Centre and Orissa government had not fulfilled the promises made for reconstruction and rehabilitation in Kandhamal district after the anti- Christian violence in 2008.
At a press conference here, the Archbishop said thousands of Christian families, who had fled their homes in Kandhamal in the wake of the riots that followed the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati, had not returned to their villages till date.
“It is strange that officers in whose presence the violence took place and thousands of houses were burnt are still in office and are declaring that there is peace in the district,” the Archbishop said.
The compensation package declared by the State government for the victims of the violence was not sufficient for the house construction or any other purpose, the Archbishop added.
John Dayal, Member of National Integration Council, and secretary general of All India Christian Council who was also present said the State government must take measures to ensure that those who had been displaced during the violence safely return to their homes where they lived before the riot.
The Archbishop alleged that witnesses to the violence were being coerced, threatened, cajoled and sought to be bribed by murderers and arsonists facing trial.
Expressing concern over the high rate of acquittals in the fast track courts, the Archbishop called for full reconciliation in Kandhamal through justice.
The Archbishop demanded that a special investigation team should investigate every case of murder and arson. Similarly, there was also need for transferring the cases against politically powerful persons to outside Kandhamal, preferably to Cuttack or Bhubaneswar.
He further demanded that independent lawyers be associated with the Special Public Prosecutors who were overworked, and witnesses and the victims be given full legal help.
He said that the government should publish a whitepaper on the land issue, and urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to investigate into the role and functioning of the district administration.
The Archbishop denied the allegation of the Bharatiya Janata Party and other organisations that the European Union delegation which visited Kandhamal on Thursday and Friday had come to the State on his invitation.
Meanwhile, the BJP State unit president Jual Oram criticised the Naveen Patnaik government for allowing the EU team to visit Kandhamal. The EU delegation visited Kandhamal to divide the people on ethnic lines, he alleged.