Dr. John Dayal
Member: National Integration Council, Government of India
On behalf of
All India Catholic Union and Federation of Catholic Associations of Delhi
All India Christian Council
United Christian Action, Delhi
28 August 2008
Honourable Mrs Sonia Gandhi
Congress President and Chairperson, UPA
10 Janpath, New Delhi
Re: Call to end Ethnic cleansing of Christians in Orissa
I am writing this to bring to your notice the utter failure of the Government of Orissa to bring a halt to the killing of Christians, the destruction of their properties and the persecution of their Church in the state in general, and in the district of Kandhamal in particular.
Although the Orissa government is a coalition of the Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is the BJP which is running the show and has complete control of the government, the police and the relief and rehabilitation ministries. The government has also given full freedom to the RSS, the VHP to carry on their aggression on the Christian community.
I would like to point out that the Christian community has unequivocally denounced the murder of VHP vice president Lakshmanananda Saraswati who was killed in Kandhamal some days ago, reportedly by Maoist groups. The state government failed thrice. They failed in December 2007 to protect Christians from VHP and RSS violence in which more then 100 churches were destroyed and thousands rendered homeless. They failed again this time when about 30 Christians have been killed, a nun gang raped, another woman burnt alive, many priests grievously injured and hundreds of houses burnt. I am attaching herewith the list of persons killed, injured and destruction of Churches in the last four days.
There is urgent need to restore peace, to stop the targeting and persecution of Christians which is tantamount to the Ethnic Cleansing of Christians from Orissa. BHP and its leaders like Praveen Togadia have openly said is their avowed target
We request that:
1. The Union Government must authorise the Army to move its troops into affected blocks of Kandhamal district where the local police and RAF have failed miserably.
2. The Centre must order a CBI enquiry into the murder of the VHP leader, and he ensuing violence to trace the guilty in both cases.
3. Urgent compensation to the kin of the dead and the injured, relief and rehabilitation must be taken so that the tens of thousands of Christians now hiding in the forest of and other districts can return home. Government must rebuild their house and also rebuild every single church that has been destroyed.
Dear Madam, it is the fair name of India that is being tarnished in this anti Christian violence. The Union Government has to act, and it has to make the State Government to wake up to its Constitutional responsibilities.
I am sure you will advice the Union government and request the Prime Minister to do whatever is necessary in this regard.
Dr John Dayal