Prayer for Kandhamal’s 7 ‘innocent’ convicts launched

A prayer campaign for seven ‘innocent’ Christian convicts of Kandhamal languishing in Jail for nine years was launched at Kochi on October 15 at a seminar on ‘What happened in Kandhamal?’ Along with journalist who has spearheading campaign for justice for Kandhamal’s ‘innocents,’ six participants from the Jesus Youth professional forum wearing white shirts held out posters of the prayer card around the digital screen displaying portraits of the seven convicts as the prayers were recited in both Malayalam and English.

“Faith must lead to action. Each Christian has a duty to raise one’s voice and pray for the seven innocent Christians in languishing in jail for nine years,” urged Akkara, journalist author who has virtually proved the innocence of the seven Christians with his investigative book ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’

The seven Christians from remote Kandhamal district in Odisha State of India have been languishing in jail following the mysterious murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008. These innocent Christians – six of them illiterates – were convicted in 2013 for the murder touted as a Christian conspiracy.

Following the Hindu leader’s murder, nearly 100 Christians had been killed and 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses plundered and torched in unabated violence that continued for weeks, rendering 56,000 Christians homeless. Hindu masses – most of them illiterate – had been incited to take revenge on the Christians after the slain Swami’s body was paraded across Kandhamal for two days along zigzag routes. Thousands could not return to their villages even after months as they were asked to forsake their faith.

A third judge of the trial court – after two judges had been transferred – sentenced the accused Christians to life imprisonment on the basis of a fabricated Christian conspiracy theory despite hardly any credible evidence brought before the court. In mid 2015, two top police officials – who had relied upon the same conspiracy theory to ensure the conviction of the accused – have testified before the Kandhamal judicial Inquiry commission that the allegations were false.

Yet, the hearing on the appeal of the innocent convicts has been repeatedly postponed in the Odisha High Court.

“Of the seven convicts, one is a mentally challenged illiterate,” pointed out the journalist author who has made 24 trips to Kandhamal and launched an online signature campaign for the release of the seven – Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalanseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi.

Each online signature, generates three instant e-mails messages to the Chief Justice of India, President of India and Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of India demanding the release of the innocent convicts.

“Christ has taught us to bear witness to the truth. Speak up for the voiceless. While innocents are languishing in jail, perpetrators behind Kandhamal fraud are holding high offices making a mockery of democracy,” pointed out the journalist author elaborating on the political conspiracy behind the Kandhamal fraud.

Anto Akkara