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Protests mark anniversary of India's worst anti-Christian violence

Hundreds gather to demand justice for Kandhamal victims

Protests mark anniversary of India's worst anti-Christian violence

Saiba Farooqi speaks to a rally in New Delhi

Hundreds of people across India took part in rallies and demonstrations on Monday to mark the sixth anniversary of India's worst ever spate of anti-Christian violence.

More than 300 gathered in New Delhi to demand justice for the victims of violence committed against tribal Christians by Hindu nationalists in the Kandhamal district of Odisha state, eastern India, from August 24, 2008.

Hundreds more gathered in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, for a protest and concert in honor of the victims. Similar programs were held in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

The 2008 violence followed the murder of Lakshmanananda Saraswati, leader of the Hindu right wing organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Although Maoist insurgents at the time claimed responsibility for the killing, Hindu nationalists blamed Christians.

Over the course of three months, Hindu groups burned Christian homes, churches and convents, killing at least 100 people and leaving at least 50,000 displaced.

Since then, little has been done to fulfill assurances from both state and federal governments that the perpetrators will be arrested and punished. 

More than 3,200 complaints were filed but the police only registered 828 of them. They finally referred 327 cases to two "fast-track" courts, but these were closed down last year with cases still unheard.

The protests on Monday called for action against politicians and organizations directly or indirectly involved in the violence, and for proper compensation to all people and institutions affected by it.

Protesters also called upon the authorities to protect the faith, culture, language, values and religions of tribals and Dalits of the Kandhamal district.

“This fight belongs to all people who believe in democracy and human rights,” Saiba Farooqi, of the All India Democratic Women's Association, told ucanews.com.

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