Ten years after their arrest, seven Indian Christians are still waiting for justice.
In August 2008, a prominent Hindu leader was killed by a mob. Even though Maoist terrorists claimed responsibility for the murder, a rumour circulated that Christians were responsible. In the outbreak of mob violence which followed, over 100 Christians were killed in the Indian region of Orissa. Some 300 churches and 6,000 Christian homes were damaged and more than 50,000 Christians were displaced.
Seven Christians were arrested and eventually found guilty of murder.
Despite significant evidence that they had nothing to do with the attack, Gornath Chalanseth, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Durjo Sunamajhi, Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Budhadeb Nayak, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi were all sentenced to life imprisonment.
They are still in jail, still waiting for their appeal to be heard.
Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was a Hindu monk and an activist for the welfare of India’s many indigenous, and impoverished, tribes. On 23 August 2008, a mob of about 50 people surrounded his home. Several men opened fire, killing Saraswati and four others. Maoist Naxalite terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack, but the local community chose to blame the Christians. Saraswati was prominent in a Hindu nationalist political party, and took a hard line against Christians attempting to convert Hindus. The result was a wave of indiscriminate destruction which left over 100 Christians dead, tens of thousands displaced and seven men arrested.
From the start the process was highly suspicious. It took four long years for the trial to run its course. Two trial court judges – who had openly indicated during the trial that the accused were innocent – were transferred off the case. Eventually a third judge passed sentence.
Pabitra Sanseth, the wife of one of the imprisoned Christians, told the media, “My husband had never gone to that place [where the Hindu leader was shot]. He was with us at the time the Swami was killed. How could he be punished for that murder? Since my husband was a firm believer and active Christian leader, they targeted him.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.