(Vatican Radio) Kandhamal in Odisha witnessed the biggest communal violence in 2008. Over 395 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 5,847 houses were razed to the ground, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. More than 56,000 people were displaced.
Nine years have gone by, but have the victims or the surviors shown any justice? On August 25 this year once again ‘Kandhamal Day’ will be observed to support the demands of the victims and survivors struggling for justice in Kandhamal.
We have Archbishop John Barwa SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar talking to us about the significance of the Kandhamal Day.
Archbishop John Barwa was the coadjutor bishop of Rourkela, a diocese in Odisha when the Christians in Kandhamal were persecuted during Christmas of 2007 and again in August 2008. In 2009 he was appointed the bishop of Rourkela after Bishop Alphonse Bilung got retired in 2009. In February 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, based in the state capital Bhubaneshwar. Under his jurisdiction comes the District of Kandhamal, which was the epicentre of the 2008 brutal violence against Christians following the Aug. 23 assassination of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda, which Hindu extremists falsely blamed on Christians despite Maoist rebels claiming the murder.
The Kandhamal Day is being organised by the survivors of Kandhamal persecution with different Churches and likeminded Hindus and Muslims.