Orissa Bishops' letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Shri Naveen Patnaik
Government of Orissa
First of all we want to convey to
you our sincere thanks and appreciation for giving us this appointment to meet
Further we want to place before you the following points for your
kind consideration and necessary action on an emergency basis.
Exodus of Christians from Kandhamal District: There is considerable reduction of
refugees in Relief Camps (from 24,000 to 11,000). The claim that those who leave
the relief camps are going back to their own villages and settling down in their
homes is not true. Most of them have migrated to relief camps in Bhubaneswar,
Cuttack, Jhanla, Berhampur and also settled down in rented houses and in the
homes of relations, friends, acquaintances etc. It is estimated that 10,000 to
15,000 Christians of Kandhamal district are living outside the
A large number of Christians of Kandhamal district have gone to
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat etc. People in the relief
camps of the costal belts, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur etc. want to return
to their villages, but are afraid because of the reasons (a) They may be
attacked on the way or in their own villages (b) They are forced to become
Hindus under pain of death or loss of properties. They are told to become Hindus
or leave the village, the district or even India © Many are unwilling to return
because the criminals are still at large and moving about with swords, guns,
weapons etc. as in Kothingia/Tiangia of Raikia block and Sarangodo
The Christians who have returned to their own villages and homes
are forcibly converted to Hinduism; they are forced to accept Hindu Samskaras
under oath and under pain of divine punishment. Their movements and meeting with
people are restricted by the fanatics for instance in Padangi,
2. Acts of injustices against Christians.
are chased away from their homes and villages.
b) Even though the State Govt.
had promised to allot land to the landless (after the last attack) it has not
yet been done. Many do not get money for the gutted down houses or damaged
houses because the administration applies rules absolutely and strictly to the
Christians in such a way that the landless will not get allotment of land or
they even loose what they have.
c) A man was not allowed to be buried in the
village as he did not become a Hindu in village Sarthaguda of Tikabali
d) Christians are not allowed to harvest the paddy from their own
fields in many Gram Panchayats if they do not become Hindus.
of houses, Churches & Religious Houses.: As the people had fled out of
threat and fear criminals are looting the homes, churches, religious houses,
institutions and destroying/burning whatever is left over.
Acceptance of FIRs: FIRs are not accepted in Daringabadi and Sarangoda Police
5. Attack on Christians is not an Ethnic Conflict :
Fundamentalist groups have been trying to name the communal violence as
an Ethnic Conflict between the Tribals and the Pano Christians. A cursory look
at facts reveals that this conflict is a calculated and preplanned master plan
to wipe out Christianity from Kandhamal district, Orissa, in order to realize
the hidden agenda of Sangh Parivar of establishing a Hindu Nation. Therefore to
keep the hidden agenda a secret they have tried to manipulate the facts:
That the victims of attack were Christians
• That not only Panos but
Christian Tribals also were killed, their homes and properties burned, destroyed
and looted (list attached).
6 Fast Tract Court: We are happy that the
state Govt. has decided to establish FTC at Kandhamal for expeditious trial of
cases relating to communal violence. Looking at the geographical area it is
suggested that the said Fast Tract Court may be set up at G. Udayagiri as it is
centrally located to all the villages that have been affected by violence.
Further it is requested that the Judge of the FTC should be from any other
religion other than from Christian or Hindu Religion.
7. Request the
presence of Central Forces in Kandhamal Dist: The Hate campaign beginning from
23rd August 2008 has been targeted to polarize religious groups and will affect
peace process during restoration stages till the Parliament & Assembly
Elections in Orissa are over. The Christian victims now in relief camps and
those who have taken distress departure from Kandhamal are afraid of further
attacks as the State Police are few and who even can not defend themselves and
their outposts. Hence we request that the presence of Central Forces be extended
till the Parliament and Assembly Elections in Orissa are over.
Churches be built/repaired by 1st week of December 2008: This will allow
Christmas spiritual preparations to begin and spiritual traditions to be
observed. This will also help confidence building among the congregations and
bury the past quietly as they approach Christmas 2008.
Dr. Raphael Cheenath, Archbishop of
Dr. T. Thiruthalil, Bishop of Balasore
Nayak, Bishop of Berhampur