By Matters India Reporter
Shillong: A veteran social activist in Meghalaya has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to route its offer of free Holy Land pilgrimage to Christians through Kandhamal of Odisha.
“Let Christians find out first what the BJP has done to Christians in Kandhamal before they take the free pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” said PBM Basaiawmoit, a senior leader of the Presbyterian Church and former vice president of the National Council of Churches in India.
The BJP, which heads the federal coalition and rules as many as 19 states, is a major contender for power in Meghalaya, a Christian majority state in northeastern India, which is scheduled to elect its legislative assembly on February 27.
Free Holy Land trip to Christians is one of the party’s election promises.
Basaiawmoit made this demand on February 22 during the release of “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” an investigative book written by veteran journalist Anto Akkara at Shillong Press Club.
Church leaders and activists working among the Kandhamal survivors allege that the victims have not received justice even after eight years.
Billy P Domes, who released the book, hailed it as “powerful” in bringing out the “naked truth about Kandhamal. It shocks one and all.”
Domes pointed out that the book has drawn lot of national attention by exposing the 2008 Hindu nationalist conspiracy to target Christians in Kandhamal, a district in Odisha, eastern India.
“Kandhamal will always remain a blot on the face of India,” Akkara said during a multi-media presentation exposing the Kandhamal fraud and travesty of justice with seven Christians languishing in jail for the past nine years.
Akkara explained how Hindu nationalist groups conspired to carry out Swami Laxmanananda’s murder on the August 23, 2008, the Hindu festival of birth of Lord Krishna. The Hindu radicals allegedly spread the rumor that the murder was a ‘Christian conspiracy’ for political gain.
The radicals took the slain swami’s body in a funeral procession that crisscrossed Kandhamal for two days inciting illiterate mobs to take revenge on Christians for ‘killing’ the Hindu leader, Anto alleged. Nearly 100 Christians were killed and 300 churches and 6,000 houses were plundered during the months-long violence that rendered 56,000 homeless.
“But, sadly and shockingly, seven innocent Christians including a mentally challenged are jail by subverting the judicial system,” Akkara said.
He urged the media to find out from KJ Alphons, a Christian in the federal cabinet, why the seven are languishing in jail. Alphons, who had studied in a Catholic seminary in Shillong, is the campaign in-charge of BJP in Meghalaya.