By Matters India Reporter
Kochi: Indian Christians should pray for the release of seven Odisha Christians languishing in jail for the past nine years as they did for Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was released from Islamic militants’ captivity after 18 months, a senior journalist says.
“I told a gathering of priests in Kerala in September end on the plight of seven Christians of Odisha’s Kandhamal, I said the Church prayed for Father (Uzhunnalil) and he is out. But there is none to pray for Kandhamal’s innocents,” Anto Akkara told Matters India on October 17.
A couple of priests then suggested that Akkara draft a prayer. So, he wrote the prayer in English and it showed it to some bishops, priests, theologians and Church officials. “Everyone was happy with it,” Akkara claimed.
The prayer was released at a meeting of Jesus youth in Kochi on October 15.
“The prayer for Kandhamal’s innocents is not a personal initiative,” said Akkara, who has traveled Kandhamal at last 24 times and written several books on the subject including groundbreaking and investigating ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’
The murder of the swami and his associates in a Hindu religious center in Kandhamal triggered unprecedented violence that lasted four months and claimed nearly 100 lives and rendered more than 56,000 homeless.
The Kandhamal district of Odisha had been experiencing sectarian tension for decades saw first organized violence during Christmas in 2007. Seven Christians were convicted for the swami’s assassination.
“I have no doubt that faith must lead to action. The blood of the martyrs will inspire the faithful to stand up for the voiceless. Following the launch of the campaign, thousands have already started praying for Kandhamal’s innocents,” Akkara claimed.
The seven Christians are Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalanseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi. A district court convicted them in 2013, which is being challenged in the High Court in Cuttack. Its hearing is being postponed for several times.
Human rights activists, social workers, journalists and church leaders have contested the convictions of the Christians as it was based on a conspiracy theory which lacked evidence and authenticity and becomes a most questionable matter.
Akkara has launched online petition for the release of those seven Christians that would generate at least three instant e-mails messages to the Chief Justice of India, President of India and Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of India.