Kandhamal: survivors seek Prez’s intervention for justice

New Delhi: A committee representing a group of survivors of 2008 Kandhamal communal violence in Odisha today sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention to ensure the victims get “long-awaited” criminal justice, adequate compensation and rehabilitation.

Speaking to meadiapersons here, CPI (M) politburo member Brinda Karat and her CPI (ML) Liberation counterpart Kavitha Krishnan, who accompanied the group, said a nation-wide campaign would be launched against the alleged injustice meted out to the survivors.

The delegation of survivors, led by senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Karat and Krishnan, had also called on Mukherjee yesterday seeking his attention on the issue.

“Such a big anti-Christian carnage, communal violence…not a single of murderers, those involved in destruction of homes of Christian community members, rapes of women is in jail.

“…so many people are out of their villages, homes.

Hence, the delegation met the President,” Karat told reporters here.

Claiming the victims’ standard of living has only declined over the period, Karat said, the Centre and Odisha government should reassess the compensation to be offered to the victims and and take rehabilitation measures.

The ex-MP insisted criminal cases including “communally motivated rapes” of women be reopened and witnesses in the matters be provided protection as the alleged perpetrators, she said, are “roaming free” and may use “intimidating tactics.”

Karat claimed that it will be “wrong” to presume that “communal” atmosphere in Kandhamal has changed to any extent in the wake of BJP’s defeat in the state during the 2014 general polls and alleged “RSS continues to have influence over local administration.”

“We are going to have a nation-wide campaign to bring justice to Kandhamal victims and that also requires punishment of those involved who today are free men…roaming freely, intimidating witnesses and subverting the law,” she said.

Fr Ajay Singh, member of the committee, claimed justice continues to elude the victims and expressed concerns over alleged poor conviction rate.

“The President gave us a patient hearing. After being ignored for justice with all doors shut locally, we came to meet him Delhi wanting justice,” Singh said.