Protesters demand immediate relief for Kandhamal victims

October 1st, 2008 - 8:58 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi , Oct 1 (ANI): Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt led a protest march to the United Nations information centre in New Delhi on Wednesday demanding immediate relief for the victims of ongoing violence in Kandhamal District of Orissa.

Bhatt met the Director of the United Nations information centre Shalini Dewan and conveyed his concern about the need to extend urgent help to those suffering in Kandhamal.

Bhatt said Dewan had given him assurance that adequate steps would be taken to provide relief to those suffering.

We came here with folded hands and bended knees to the United Nation because it is in the charter of the UN to provide urgent relief to those who are internally displaced. This is the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I wanted to plead to Shalini Dewanji to exhaust all possibilities to deliver urgent help to brothers and sisters who have been crying for help for quite some time, said Bhatt.

The protest saw the participation of a number of victims of Kandhamal violence seeking security. The victims claimed there was no end to atrocities committed on them and the Government’’s apathetic attitude had forced them to come here.

Ever since August 23rd, when the riots started, our houses have been burnt. A lot of people have been murdered too. As a result, we had to hide ourselves and seek shelter in forests. Then we approached the relief camps. But even there, we were not provided security. A lot of people were poisoned. We do not have any secure place to stay. The Government has done nothing for us. So we came here seeking security, said Sudesh Kumar, a victim.

The attacks on Christians continue unabated in Orissa despite the State Government making desperate efforts to control the sectarian mayhem in the tribal-dominated region since the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates on August 23.

Though additional companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel have been deployed, residents complain that as soon as there is any laxity in the security arrangement, incidents of violence start taking place.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has been requested to visit the region to assess the situation where Christian missionaries are accused of forcibly converting lower class Hindus to Christianity to escape discrimination, which has been vehemently denied by the missionaries.

The team would examine the steps taken by the Orissa government to bring the situation under control where the locals are still living in fear of violent attacks.

Many Hindu nationalists say they are determined to fight Christian missionaries accusing them of converting Hindus to Christianity.

Meanwhile, Christian missionaries say that lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape discrimination of the caste-system.

Communal violence spread out of Kandhamal to Karnataka as well where at least 20 churches have been burnt by Hindu mobs in the past 10 days.

The Central Government has asked the State Governments of Orissa and Karnataka to do more to stop religious violence. (ANI)

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