Delhi Minorities Commission demands justice for the 7 innocent  Christians languishing in jail for last 10 years and said real culprits be punished.

Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Concerned over the plight of seven Christians languishing in jail for ten years after being wrongly implicated in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has raised its voice for speedy justice in the case. Despite being no evidence against them, they were imprisoned and no action was taken against the real culprits responsible for the killing and Christian community was deliberately targeted in Kandhamal violence in August-September 2008, allegedly by Sangh as claimed in the Documentary.

“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocent people who had to spend 10 years in jail for no fault of theirs. Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the injustice to the Christian minorities,” said Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, DMC chairman. He was speaking on the occasion of the release of a chilling documentary titled, “The agony of Kandhamal” screened at Delhi secretariat auditorium on Thursday.

While speaking to Caravan Daily, Dr Khan said, “It is not right that there is no hearing on the appeal of the accused. Judiciary must take up such cases on priority basis. We want to create public awareness about such instances of injustices, so that they don’t recur. We will also write to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), so that the innocents get justice and the real culprits are punished.”

The Commission spoke about the delay in disposing of the appeal of the seven Christians of Kandhamal namely Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalanseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi. Among them, Munda Badamajhi is mentally challenged and other six are illiterates. They were convicted by the lower Court to life sentences. The appeal of the convicts has been pending before the Odisha High court since November 2013.

In the violence that continued over a month, at least 100 people were reportedly (37 as per government records) killed. According to the National People’s Tribunal headed by retired Delhi High Court judge AP Shah, more than 600 villages were ransacked in which 232 churches destroyed, 5,600 houses were looted and burnt and 55,000 people compelled to flee their homes.

DMC member Adv.  Anastasia Gill, convener of the programme, said that commission’s team after visiting Kandhamal found that at least 500 families never returned to their homes and got no rehabilitation either. “This is the time for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the fascist forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion,” she emphasised.

Anto Akkara, journalist, speaking at the release of documentary ‘The agony of Kandhamal’ in New Delhi.

Sangh Parivar behind Kandhamal violence

The documentary, produced by noted journalist Anto Akkara, captures in chilling detail how despite curfew in the region, Swami’s body was paraded for two days across Kandhamal to instigate people against Christians. The case against the seven accused is fabricated and NHRC didn’t take any action to come to their rescue. However, the Hindu neighbours of the seven imprisoned Christians have given statements in their favour.

Akkara said that it was the Visha Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia who announced the seven Christians’ names as the killers of Swami not the police. “Two honest fast track judges were transferred and a third one signed the conviction which a legal luminary described as ‘written outside’,” said Akkara.

Audience listening to speakers at the launch of the documentary.

Akkara has also written three investigative books: ‘Kandhamal- A Blot on Indian Secularism (2009)’, ‘Kandhamal Craves for justice (2013)’ and  ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda’ with a foreward by late journalist Kuldeep Nayar. Released in May 2016, the book contains details of some documented evidences which conclusively showed that seven Christians have been fraudulently convicted for the Swami’s murder to perpetrate the Kandhmal violence for political gain.

The book also lists the clinching documents to prove involvement of the key people like National Security Advisor chief Ajit Doval and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in covering up Kandhamal case along with Ram Madhav, RSS leader and national general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Online Petition

Akkara is also running an online signature campaign for the release of the seven accused on the website— that generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court. Over 71,000 people have signed for the campaign so far.

Stop BJP in its tracks in 2019

“This killing (of Swami) was an excuse for the violence just like the way people got killed in Sabarmati Express train in Godhra which triggered violence against Muslims  in Gujarat (2002). Such incidents happen because RSS is active and its aim is to make the country a Hindu Rashtra. So for 2019 general elections we will need to kick the RSS out, or else the country will be in trouble,” cautioned Delhi University professor Apoorvanand.

DMC member Kartar Singh Kochhar and Delhi government minister for social welfare and SC/ST OBC, Rajendra Pal Gautam were also present at the event.