New Delhi, Aug.29 : The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today claimed that over 50 persons, mainly Christians, have been killed since the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists launched an attack on Christians last week.
It said that the deaths followed the murder of four of VHP members, including 90-year-old Laxmananda Saraswati by unidentified gunmen on August 23, 2008.
Providing the names of 20 victims killed so far, it said: "This is an abject failure of the Indian State to protect the right to life of the citizens. Since all entry roads have been blocked with logs and the law enforcement personnel have access to remote areas of the district, the Hindu fundamentalists are being allowed to carry out mass killings of the Christians."
Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR, stated that thousands of Christians have fled their villages and some 5,000 people are now living in seven relief camps at Chakapad, Tikabali, G. Udaygiri, Raikia, Baliguda, K.Nuagoan and Phiringia.
About 200 villages have been affected by the organized attacks and hundreds of churches, including house churches have been burnt, he added.
Criticizing the Orissa Government, the ACHR stated that instead of increasing security, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had suspended theuperintendent of Police of Kandhamal and ordered a judicial probe. It further accused Patnaik of ordering an investigation by the Staterime Branch and no one knows who is in charge of inquiries.
"What was required was the deployment of security forces given the attacks on the Christians during the Christmas in 2007," asserted Chakma.
It called for the restoration of the rule of law and appropriate redressal to victims displaced by the violence, besides establishing an independent inquiry into the events to establish responsibility and take steps to prevent any further politicization of communal tensions.