Human Rights

DMC meet calls for expediting the appeal of Kandhamal’s seven innocent Christians

New Delhi: The delay in disposing of the appeal of the seven innocent Christians of Kandhamal in Odisha, who have been languishing in jail for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, came in for wide criticism on October 11 at the release of the Hindi documentary ‘Kaid mein Bekasoor’ (Innocents Imprisoned) at the Delhi Secretariat auditorium in a function organized by the Delhi Minorities Commission.

Journalist Anto Akkara speaking at the programme

Rajendra Pal Gautam, minister for social welfare and SC/ST/OBC of Delhi Government, launched the documentary that has been produced by journalist Anto Akkara who has been spearheading a campaign for the release of the seven innocents. “Humanity is being undermined at the alter of religion and that’s why incidents like Kandhamal happen,” said the minister at the programme.

“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocents languishing in jail for the last 10 years. It should concern the whole nation,” said Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, DMC chairman presiding over the release of the chilling documentary. “Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the shocking injustice to the Christian minorities,” pointed out Dr Khan.

“It is a shame for Indian democracy and judicial system that the seven innocents – six of them illiterates – are in jail to perpetuate a political fraud,” lamented journalist Akkara who has made 27 trips to remote Kandhamal jungles villages and authored the nationally acclaimed book Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda? that has now been translated into Hindi, Malayalam and Odia.

“Let us all lend  our voices to the voiceless,” urged Akkara who has been anchoring an online signature campaign for the release of the innocents on www.release7innocents.com.  Each signature on this website generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court.

“If we fail to protect the minorities, we are falling into the pit,” said Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand addressing the packed audience. “If we do not come together for 2019 elections by forgetting out differences, we are in for trouble,” cautioned the political commentator.

“We are taking up this case to awaken the minorities and others to massive injustice to innocent people,” said Advocate Sister Anastasia Gill, DMC Member.  “This is the moment for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the fascist forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion,” she said.

For more information contact : Adv. Sr. Anastasia Gill, Member, Delhi Minorities Commission,  98702-28632

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