Kandhamal: Home torched. Police release 3 arrested
Bhubaneswar, April 26, 2014: Odisha Police yesterday released three people they had arrested for destroying the house of a survivor of the 2008 Kandhamal violence. Praful Digal, a Catholic of Budruka village of Kandhamal district, had built the house with the government funds recently. However, suspected Hindu radicals attacked it a week before Easter, said Fr. Pradosh Kumar Nayak, rector of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Balliguda, and the Dean of Balliguda Deanery that covers Budruka village. Budrukia is around 10 km from Balliguda town, a sub divisional headquarters.
The police arrested Sudershan Mallick, Pabitra Mallick, Nageswar Mallick on a complaint filed by Shiva, Praful’s 70-year-old father. However, the three were released Thursday night without giving any reasons. Fr Nayak said it was the third house the Digal family had built in the village in the past six years. Hindu radicals destroyed them all. The destruction of the third house built with the government aid indicates that some forces were determined to keep Christians out of the village, Fr Nayak said. It also showed that Christians continue to lead a fearful existence in Kandhamal, he added. Kandhamal district witnessed months-long unprecedented attacks against Christians following the assassination of Hindu religious leader on August 23, 2008.
Digal’s was among 834 houses Hindu radicals destroyed in the first anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in December 2007. A few Christians were killed, a few young nuns were molested and some 50 churches and Christian institutions were also destroyed then. The Digal family mustered courage, returned to the village two months later and rebuilt the house. However, it was destroyed in the 2008 anti-Christian violence. After this attack, the family left the village and was sheltered by their relatives of another village where they still remain. They had planned to return to the village after the completion of their house, which they constructed with the support of government supported housing scheme for the poorest people. Praful is the eldest of the two sons in the Digal joint family. The sons have their own families and eke out a living on farming.
Fr Nayak said the Digals were in tears as their third house was destroyed, dashing their hope to return to their land to cultivate. The house was destroyed as the district prepared for to vote in the general elections on April 24.
- ajay kumar singh