Rights body to probe anti-Christian violence in Orissa

September 16th, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will send a team to Orissa to probe the recent violence against Christians that led thousands of them to flee their homes.The panel’s move follows a petition submitted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, seeking protection from violence at the hands of Hindu radicals.

“The petition raises serious questions about human rights violations and therefore the panel has sought a report from Orissa’s chief secretary and DGP (Director General of Police) within two weeks,” an NHRC official said.

Orissa’s Kandhamal district was hit by communal violence after Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram in the district Aug 23.

Though police said Maoist rebels could have killed the VHP leader, Hindu groups blamed the Christians for the murder and went on the rampage against them. Christian groups have repeatedly denied the allegation.

The state has witnessed targeted violence since Aug 23 in which thousands of Christians have been rendered homeless.

“Some organisations had pointed fingers at the Christian community for the murder, and targetted the community,” the petition said.

It alleged that despite the assurance of protection from the government, the Hindu radicals were moving about with lethal weapons threatening Christians.

The petitioners said that the “destructive activities of the fundamentalists” even in the presence of police were forcing Christians to flee their homes and take refuge in the forest or even leave Orissa.

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