Christian body slams Orissa’s secular policy

October 21st, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 21 (IANS) A Christian body Tuesday slammed the Orissa government for refusing monetary compensation to re-build the churches demolished in the recent sectarian violence.Reacting to the affidavit filed by Orissa Monday in the Supreme Court, the Global Council of Indian Christians said the partisan attitude of the government was vividly indicative from it.

The government affidavit, saying monetary compensation to any religious institution was against its secular policy, comes after Cuttack Archbishop Raphel Cheenath filed a petition in the apex court seeking Rs.30 million as compensation to rebuild the churches demolished in the sectarian violence in the Kandhamal district.

“The Churches are the places of worship, where people from all religion go and pray,” Sajan K. George, president of the Christian council, said in a release.

“The state government has said the monetary compensation to any religious institution is against its secular policy. But the budget of the state law department shows items, such as temple establishment, performance of festivals, grants to temple administration etc,” George said.

He said the government had spent nearly Rs.40 million alone under the head of upkeep of temples, budgeted around Rs.50 million.

“Another valid document shows speech by the finance minister this year in the Orissa legislative assembly, in which he mentioned about the allotment of Rs.5 crore (five million) for a temple development,” he said.

“The state government is forgetting that the churches were burnt and demolished and did not collapse on their own, showing the failure in the part of Law and order enforcing bodies.”

“The chief minister Naveen Patnaik holds moral responsibility to reconstruct the churches to establish that the state government is really secular and desires to promote national integration.

The communal violence, following the killing of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda and four of his aids on Aug 23 in Jaleshpata ashram, left at least 36 people dead in Kandhamal besides more than 20,000, mostly Christians homeless, displaced.

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