Fri, Oct 03, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Rights group urges India to end attacks on local Christians


Amnesty International has urged India to act on its word and end what it said were ongoing attacks by hardline Hindu nationalists against the country’s minority Christian community.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Amnesty also urged New Delhi to “conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the attacks ... publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.”

It said violence had continued despite Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s admission this week that the attacks against Christians in eastern Orissa state were a “national shame” and that his government had taken a “firm stand” to halt it.

Singh’s comment on Monday while on a visit to France followed condemnation of the attacks by the pope and the EU.

“The last two days have witnessed renewed attacks by supporters of Hindu nationalist organizations ... against the Christian minorities and their places of worship in Kandhamal district in Orissa,” Amnesty said.

The fresh attacks left “three people dead, more than 15 people injured, including some policemen, and hundreds homeless,” it said.

“India should match its words with its actions and ensure that members of the Christian minority community in Orissa are protected against renewed communal violence,” Amnesty said.

Officials in Orissa said 32 people have died since the violence began on Aug. 24. The number of Christians living in relief camps had gone up from 12,000 to 20,000 during the last month.

According to Amnesty, “an atmosphere of insecurity” was prevailing in Kandhamal despite paramilitary reinforcements sent by New Delhi.

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