Apex court to hear plea seeking Orissa Christians’ safety

September 2nd, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court will Wednesday hear a plea for deployment of adequate security personnel to check the spiralling communal violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal Tuesday decided to accord an urgent hearing to the plea after senior counsel Collin Gonsalves, appearing for Cuttack’s Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, apprised the bench of a plea filed by the archbishop.

As Gonsalves pleaded for urgent hearing on the lawsuit filed by the archbishop, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the court that he had already received a copy of the archbishop’s petition and had sent it to the office of Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta.

He said the government would be in a better position to respond to the plea on Wednesday after studying it.

Archbishop Cheenath told the apex court in his petition that the Orissa government was deliberately not deploying the security personnel in the villages hit by the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district, following the killing of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda and four of his associates allegedly by Maoists Aug 23.

At least 16 people have been killed in the violence.

He said the local police instead were permitting the perpetrators of the violence to continue their assault against the Christian community and were taking no steps to protect them.

Describing the violence in various villages of Kandhamal district as “of genocidal proportions”, the archbishop said: “The primary reason for this communal violence is intolerance by certain groups of a particular political persuasion.”

Giving a list of major and minor churches destroyed in various towns and villages, besides the names of those killed and injured in the violence, the archbishop said the central paramilitary forces had deliberately been deployed in towns while violence was raging in villages.

With security personnel guarding public offices in towns and perpetrators of violence attacking the villages often in night, the villagers have been left spending their nights in the neighbouring jungles to evade the attack, said the archbishop in his petition.

The archbishop also accused the state government of “providing inadequate compensation as per a an arbitrary and irrational methodology adopted for choosing the beneficiaries of the compensation.”

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