Christians demand justice for 100 victims of 2008 Orissa massacre as judge orders review

Christians in India are once again demanding justice for the death of the 100 victims of the Orissa massacre in 2008 as the Supreme Court has ordered the reinvestigation of the cases.

On Aug. 2, India's Supreme Court ordered the government of Orissa to review 315 recorded incidents of violence in the state eight years ago. It is worth noting that all these cases were reported to authorities but have not been investigated thoroughly.

(Reuters/Parth Sanyal)Christians gather inside a shelter at Raikia village in Orissa, August 31, 2008.

The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) hailed the Supreme Court's move and asked the government to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

"The decision of the Supreme Court to reopen 315 cases is a first step: we ask the state and federal government to ensure that the perpetrators of those crimes are arrested and pay for their actions," CSW told Agenzia Fides. "What happened in Kandhamal must not be forgotten; we will have to persist in asking to face injustice."

In a statement issued to Agenzia Fides, India Catholic Union's former national president John Dayal recounted how the late Emeritus Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, an Orissa-based pastor, fought for justice for the victims. He also called the Orissa massacre the "biggest martyrdom" of Indian Christians.

On Aug. 25, 2008, a violent attack on the Christian community in Kandhamal in Orissa state left around 100 Christians dead, 5,600 homes looted, and about 300 churches destroyed. The violence also displaced more than 50,000 Christians who sought refuge into the woods just to survive the ethnic cleansing, and many of them still have not attained justice.

Last year, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar applauded the Orissa Christians whose faith did not waver despite the violence they endured in 2008. He noted how the incident further strengthened their love for Jesus Christ, Catholic Culture reports.

Archbishop Barwa said he went around to visit church leaders and priests in every convent. He happily relayed that all of the Christians he met professed their undying faith in Jesus in the face of church destruction, death of their loved ones, and persecution during the Orissa massacre.