Indian Supreme Court: State Response to Anti-Christian Mob Violence ‘Inadequate’

The chief justice also said it was “very disturbing” that so many perpetrators had not yet been brought to justice.

In 2008, the death of a Hindu leader led to the worst case of anti-Christian violence in India’s history.

About 100 Christians were killed, 300 churches attacked, 6,000 Christian homes damaged, and 50,000 people displaced when Hindu fundamentalists blamed Christians for the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. The violence took place in the Kandhamal district of the eastern coastal state of Odisha.

(The same state made the news on Christmas Eve the year before for another string of attacks connected to Saraswati, and in 1999 when Hindu radicals burned missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons to death as they slept in their Jeep. In 2008, fundamentalists announced their intention to destroy all of the Christians living there.)

This month, India’s Supreme Court ordered the Odisha government to reinvestigate the trials of perpetrators “where acquittals were not justified on facts.” Of the 827 criminal cases registered, 315 were not pursued, and in the 362 cases where a verdict was given, only 78 resulted in conviction. About 6,495 people were arrested, but just 150 cases are still ongoing.

Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit also ruled the compensation the state government offered—from $150 to $750 for destroyed homes and about $7,500 for families who lost a member—is not enough. Odisha state had set aside about $400,000 in all to pay for the damage.

Archbishop Raphel Cheenath, who filed the lawsuit, asked for about $6,000 per damaged house and about $22,500 for each family member killed in the riots. (Cheenath, 82, passed away yesterday.)

The judges didn’t go that far, ordering an additional $4,500 for the widows and children of the 39 Christians …

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