Bl. Titus Brandsma courageously resisted Nazi ideology and died at Dachau in 1942. The Titus Brandsma Award recognizes a journalist who has made a major contribution to the struggle for human rights. Anto Akkara was conferred the Award in 2013 for having exposed the brutal persecution of Christians in India. In its Award Citation, The International Christian Organization of the Media praised Akkara for his stellar role in highlighting the “gross denial of fundamental rights and freedom of religion in the Kandhamal jungles of Orissa”.
In true Gangs of Wasseypur style, on 23.08.2008 at 19.55 hrs. when Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati (“Swami”) was in his room, some armed men attacked his Jalespetta Ashram. Two of them took control of the four unarmed recruits standing outside at gun point. The rest of them entered the Ashram and started indiscriminate firing, killing Swami in the attached toilet of his room where he tried to hide himself. The attackers fired about 50 rounds in fifteen minutes and ran away.
Clinching evidence showed Christist conspiracy in the assassination of Swami. The Pana Christians recognized in Swamiji an obstacle that not only empowered their Kandha enemy but also threatened the growth of their lucrative trade in liquor, sacrificial buffaloes and conversion enterprises. The ‘violence’ spread after the procession of the dead body of Swami was taken through various parts of Kandhamal on a grand scale.
Archbishop Raphael v. State of Orrisa, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 404 of 2008] (“Writ Petition”) was filed before the SC to highlight failure on part of the State of Orissa in deploying adequate Police Force to maintain law and order in Kandhamal and in protecting innocent people whose human rights were violated. The Court passed various orders from time to time to ensure that the situation was brought under control and relief in full measure was extended to the victims.
After releasing ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmananda‘ in June this year, Akkara questioned the conviction of 7 Christians. Swami had stated earlier that the Pope and Sonia Gandhi considered him as a threat to the Christianisation of Kandhamal. Hence, it was easy to spread rumours that Christians killed him.
The last affidavit filed on behalf of the State of Orissa, pertaining to the Writ Petition, on 01.03.2016, sets out in detail the steps taken by the State and the present status. The SC recently considered the scales at which compensation has been granted and disbursed.
While directing that “ends of justice would be met if the State Government and the Central Government are directed to pay additional compensations“, the SC quoted Khanna J. from Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1974 SC 1389, apt even in the present context:
“The minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority and the approach has been to ensure that nothing should be done, as might deprive the minorities of a sense of belonging, of a feeling of security, of a consciousness of equality and of the awareness that the conservation of their religion, culture, language and script as also the protection of their educational institutions is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution… It can, indeed, be said to be an index of the level of civilization and catholicity of a nation as to how far their minorities feel secure and are not subject to any discrimination or suppression.”