Activists observe ‘Kandhamal Day’, demand SIT

August 26, 2014 10:10 am | Updated 10:10 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Activists staging a protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday demanding justice for victims of Kandhamal riots. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Activists staging a protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday demanding justice for victims of Kandhamal riots. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Human rights activists belonging to different organisations and leaders of various Christian groups on Monday observed ‘Kandhamal Day’ at Jantar Mantar here and demanded setting up a “high-level” special investigation team to inquire into the roles of the administration and the police machinery during the violence against Dalits, tribals and Christians at Kandhamal in Orissa six years ago.

It was on August 25, 2008, that the Kandhamal district in Orissa witnessed “anti-Christian, anti-Dalit and and anti-tribal violence”, a release on behalf of the protesting organisations said.

The protesters also demanded release of all victims facing allegedly fabricated charges and appropriate legal action against the culprits who were involved in the violence.

People and institutions affected by the violence should also be duly compensated, the protesters demanded, adding that the faith, culture, language, values and religions of the Adivasis in the district should be ensured protection.

The National Peoples Tribunal recorded that over 56,000 children, women and men, all of them Dalits and tribals, were displaced and forced to flee into the forests as the mobs burnt down their houses, churches, schools, hostels and medical centres.

The protesters bemoaned that the criminal justice system and the relief and rehabilitation operations had failed the victims of the violence. Out of 3,331 complaints, only about 800 FIRs were lodged and out of those, only in 518 cases charge-sheets were filed. Out of the 518 charge-sheets, only 247 cases had so far been disposed with a high number of acquittals, the release claimed.

The relief and rehabilitation had been very tardy as the authorities had failed to provide resources and opportunities to the survivors of the riots to rebuild their lives. The victims had knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court for relief and rehabilitation, the release said.

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