Evangelical Fellowship of India condemns hate speeches against Christians

Published 14 April 2009  |  
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) on Monday condemned the use of hate speeches by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates to fan communal feelings in Kandhamal district of Orissa.

The Christian body was furious after Ashok Sahu, former IPS officer, and BJP candidate for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, delivered inflammatory speech against Christians, accusing them in the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008.

The Election Commission has already reviewed the alleged CD that contained the hate speech and has registered four cases against the Hindutva leader. (Read More)

With election due on April 16 and 23 in Orissa, EFI said, the attempt to further polarize the voters is deeply disturbing.

After the recent break up between the ruling BJD and its coalition partner BJP, the evangelical organization pointed that the BJP has made the killing of Swami Laxmananda its main poll plank.

"Elections are taking place at a time when 3,187 people are still in relief camps, and hundreds are believed to have fled the district. The district administration reportedly sent the people in relief camps back to the villages, sometimes forcibly, with dry ration which may last for a few days. The victims who returned have faced social boycott and threats to their lives and property," EFI lamented.

"Though over 2,500 criminal complaints have been filed in connection with the August-September 2008 violence, approximately 750 have been converted into formal complaints (First Information Reports). The main accused in many cases continue to roam free," the statement rued.

According to Rev. Richard Howell, General Secretary of the EFI, "approximately 5,031 Christian homes, 150 churches, mostly in villages, and 90 institutions were destroyed, vandalized and torched."

The human toll is reported at 75 – though many believe the actual toll is much higher, he said.

The Christian leader called upon civil society to demand the state and central governments to restore the rule of law to ensure peace in riot-hit districts of Orissa. It also urged support for the victims in their struggle for justice and peace.

Lastly, it appealed to the faithful in the country to pray for peaceful elections in the state especially for Orissa victims to be able to exercise their franchise fearlessly.

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