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Judges want answers on Orissa aid

State 'must explain allegations of poor relief efforts after religious violence', says supreme court

August 16, 2011

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The supreme court is seeking an explanation from the Orissa government over what the Church says is its poor handling of relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district. "You have a lot to explain,” said a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, who were hearing a petition from Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who has since retired. The Orissa government was ordered to respond within two weeks. In his petition, Archbishop Cheenath outlined 17 counts of inadequate and arbitrary compensation given to victims from Kandhamal and other parts of the eastern state after violence in December 2007 and in August 2008. The petition also referred to a survey conducted by the Church’s Justice, Peace and Development Commission which revealed that 246 families of victims were not considered worthy of relief and rehabilitation assistance. It also drew the court’s attention to the problems being faced by survivors, such as poor medical facilities, families still being unable to return to their homes, the adverse impact on children’s education and assistance for widows. Lan Singh Rongmei, a lawyer representing the victims, said: “We have demanded proper and adequate relief and rehabilitation for not only Kandhamal victims but also those from other parts of the state. The government has yet to announce a comprehensive package.” He claimed many of those who later died of their injuries did so because of lack of access to food and their families should therefore be included in the compensation package. Related links: Hindu radical charged with rape of Orissa nun Six-year-old Orissa girl identifies dad’s killer Five sentenced to life for murder during Orissa violence Kandhamal probe a failure, say activists
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