Indian Catholic News

Campaign for jailed Christians achieves milestone

Journalist-author Anto Akkara, who has been spearheading the campaign, says Christians are jailed on fabricated charges.

 
Bangalore: 

An online signature campaign demanding the release of seven innocent Christians, jailed in connection to anti-Christian riots in Odisha, crossed the milestone of 50,000 signatures on July 11.

Journalist author Anto Akkara, who has been spearheading the campaign in a press statement on July 12, called for more signatures for the release of the seven – six of them illiterates including a mentally challenged.

The seven Christians – Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Budhadeb Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalenseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanathan Badamajhi--have been jailed accused of murdering of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23, 2008.

The murder sparked a six-week long anti-Christian violence, resulting in the death of some 100 Christians. Frenzied groups raided and torched some 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses.

Akkara, who wrote an investigative book ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’, said the slain Swami's body was paraded across Kandhamal for two days along a zigzag route deliberately to incite anti-Christian feelings among villagers.

According to Akkara’s investigation and claims, the Swami’s murder was achieved through contract killers at the behest of radical Hindu groups. The book also shows engineered judicial inadequacies resulted in the conviction of seven Christians for the murder

Two judges were transferred during the trial and a third judge convicted the accused Christians to life imprisonment for the Swami’s murder in 2013 “on the basis of a fabricated Christian conspiracy theory,’ said a press release from Akkara.

Akkara who has chronicled Kandhamal’s bloodshed and travesty of justice launched the online signature campaign through a website www.release7innocents.com, on March 3, 2016.

Each online signature generates three instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India and Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. On the second anniversary of the campaign, it has been modified to generate a fourth email to the High Court of Odisha as well.

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