Skip to main content

What caused Kandhamal violence in 2007-08? Expert, Dalit leader react to new docu-film

Well-known film maker KP Sasi has released a new 95-minute documentary  "Voices From the Ruins - Kandhamal In Search of Justice", which seeks to graphically describe how in Kandhamal district of Orissa, mainly inhabited by Adivasis and Dalits, among them a large population are Christians, witnessed its biggest violence on the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians in 2008.
Based on interviews with the survivors of Kandhamal violence, who are still struggling against the improper compensation, improper rehabilitation and improper justice delivery systems, the film brings out the concerns of the survivors, through their own voices as well concerned sections, analysing the historical roots of violence, the impact of violence on various sections of the communities and the struggle for justice by the survivors of Kandhamal violence.
Released on the anniversary of the violence (August 28), while Sasi has sought the documentary, already available on YouTube, widest circulation through an email alert, well-known economist Amit Bhaduri and top Dalit rights leader N Paul Divakar have reacted to the film:

Amit Bhaduri:

I had visited Kandhamal soon after the violence as part of a fact finding team. One aspect of it is the Dalit Christians have some English and had low level jobs in the local administration. With this advantage they came to own some land. The other Adivasis considered themselves original 'rajas', even told us so, and resented this fact. Similar is a story in Jharkhand I had witnessed before. This land issue needs focus.

N Paul Divakar:

I would like to congratulate you for your painstaking efforts to bring this excellently well documented film. Thanks to Fr Ajay, Fr. Manoj Nayak, Sr Kusum, Sr Christa, Mr Dhirendra Panda, Fr Dibyasigh Paricha and several others whose names may not be visible who have waged a great struggle to bring the story out and demand justice.
The documentary starts off very well and traces the history of freedom of faith rather than religious conversions as the basis for the Kandhamal violence and the nature of violence. Once again I would like to acknowledge Sasi for his detailed diligent work.
NCDHR has been the first body to have entered the area after the very first wave of violence (2007) and we saw first hand the trail of destruction and hatred. We engaged with communities and talked to people of both the survivors and the perpetrators of violence. Fr Ajay, Fr Manoj, Dhirendra Panda and those mentioned above were the key leaders who supported the communities and challenged the state demanding justice to the survivors of Kandhamal violence.
I feel this documentary may need to bring in two key elements of Kandhamal violence.
The mainstream media and the state portrayed this violence as a result of the demand of Pano communities who are categorised as SCs to be recognised as Scheduled Tribes and so the violence is the result of the STs of Kandhamal and surrounding area abetted by the hindutva forces. It is interesting to note that a large proportion of Pano communities christian and have built institutions that gave them dignity.
Secondly, the Kandhamal violence in 2007 has roots of Dalits, most of whom have chosen Christian faith, who challenged the dominant castes in the area through their economic assertion. During the Vinayaka Chturthi celebrations the Dalits set up their stall as big as the dominant castes stall, which got the dominant castes seething with anger and they broke it down. 
This was also retaliated by Dalit youth, many of whom happened to be Christian Dalits, resulting in the damage of the dominant caste stall! Then a rumour was spread virulently that 'Christian missionaries' have damaged the stall of 'Hindus' - thereby giving it communal twist. And that was the excuse for the Hindutva forces, which were dominated by the traders from the neighbouring districts, to make it a communal divide.
A related phenomenon, we have observed is that the dignity of Dalit communities in the district and in the state has been strongly supported by the Christian institutions. It gave them community halls, the youth a dignity of education, music and the practice of dressing well. Gave them exposure to the outside world through visits to other parts of the state and the country and also education outside the state.
The stigma of 'untouchability' has been removed internally. Though there have not been any evidence of the Church fighting the scourge of untouchability blatantly, latently it has given a base for those youth who have been touched by the Christian institutions to challenge caste based discrimination. 
This story too must be told, because Baba Saheb Ambedkar has asserted that unless the deep roots of Hindutva are wrenched away from the mind of the Dalits, the scourge of untouchability will not be removed from our culture. That is the reason for his Dhamma Parivartan -- a transformation from the bondage of 'casteist' values. Without this element of the struggle for justice of Kandhamal survivors, the story may not be complete.
I believe Kandhamal violence is not a mere communal violence against Christian minority but another wave of violence against the asserting Dalits and Adivasis!
I do hope this element may find some space in your narrative.
Congratulations to Sasi and a salute to all the leaders who struggled and continue to struggle courageously against these forces which dehumanise people, especially the vulnerable communities.

KP Sasi's reply:

There is a limit of information that can be placed in a documentary film. There is no limit of information which can be communicated through the medium of writing. When I watch the film, I feel that is is already loaded with information. Some of the points mentioned by Paul have already come in the film. However, I have always felt that more films with serous pursuit are needed on this whole exercise of Kandhamal genocide.
I hope such exercises will take place in future. The grave human rights violations can be seen from the perspectives of dalits, adivasis, Christians, women, children, historical narration and many other angles. The propaganda by the Sangh Parivar can be confronted from many angles. This is only one effort to bring in many of these angles. But there is always a limit to penetrate to any one angle, since the format and the structure of the planned film have limitations. I hope you will understand that.
When we made the first film on Narmada dams, what struck me was that after the screenings of the film, many film makers were inspired to pursue different areas of the issue. I wish something like that happens with this issue also.

Comments

TRENDING

Mental health: We talk of poverty figures, but not increase in suicides since 2014

By IMPRI Team Highlighting  the issue of mental health and addressing the challenges involved, # IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Institutional Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing under the #WebPolicyTalk series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps . The discussion was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai . The distinguished panel included – Prof Anuradha Sovani, Former Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, and Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and National Core Committee member and Ethics Committee Chairperson, Association of Adolescent and Child Care India ; Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director, Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at Indian Law Society, Pune ; Dr Swati Rane, Founder CEO at SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy, Mumbai and Founder V

Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra* The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many. In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique com

Beyond Naxalbari: Defective tendencies, mechanical copy of Chinese path

By Harsh Thakor* Naxalbari Movement in May 1969 ushered a new era in Indian history. The scenes were reminiscent of a spiritual renaissance with Marxist political consciousness elevating at an unparalleled scale. This year it was its 55th anniversary on May 25th. Similar to time of Naxalbari agricultural workers and the peasantry are enslaved with burden of debts and globalization has entangled them like an octopus.Corporates have virtually alienated tribals. Inspired by the Chinese Revolution and Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Naxalbari movement upheld the concept of agrarian revolution protracted peoples War and New Democratic Revolution, revolting against the revisionism of the CPI and CPM. It formulated that India was still engripped by semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism since 1947, with landlordism only abolished on paper and economy bounded to service of foreign capital. Naxalbari inspired the peasantry and other oppressed sections that they could form their own organs of

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report

NEP: Education must shift away from knowledge, move to teaching students

Dr Anjusha Gawande* The Education sector in the globe is changing dramatically. Many manual jobs may be captured over by machines as a consequence of multiple spectacular advances in science and technology, including the machine learning, and artificial intelligence. A professional workforce, particularly one that includes mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary competencies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, will be in incredibly popular. As a result, education must shift away from knowledge and toward teaching students, how to be creative and transdisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and process information differently in innovative and rapidly changing sectors. The education development agenda at the global level is represented in Goal 4 (SDG4) of India's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. Ministry of Education has announced the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on 29.07.2020. In J

40 per cent of Australia’s population reported having No Religion in 2021 Census

South Asia Times, a Melbourne-based news site, says , Australia’s 2021 Census shows, there is ‘no religion’ surge in the country amidst religious diversity: The 2021 Census has revealed increasing diversity in the religions Australians identified, reflecting continuing changes in the country's social attitudes and belief systems. Christianity is the most common religion in Australia, with over 40 per cent (43.9 per cent) identifying as Christian. This has reduced from over 50 per cent (52.1 per cent) in 2016 and from over 60 per cent (61.1 per cent) in 2011. As in earlier Censuses, the largest Christian denominations are Catholic (20.0 per cent of the population) and Anglican (9.8 per cent). While fewer people are reporting their religion as Christian, more are reporting ‘no religion’. Almost 40 per cent (38.9 per cent) of Australia’s population reported having no religion in the 2021 Census, an increase from 30 per cent (30.1 per cent) in 2016 and 22 per cent (22.3 per cent) in 20

Inflation targeting in India: Why RBI should focus on stabilizing the real economy

By Kaibalyapati Mishra, Krishna Raj* Inflation is a piece of bad news. In recent months, the pressure of hyperinflation that is galloping hope of the common man has stayed in the limelight with the fear of a continuous prevalence. The onset of COVID followed war trodden global equations and the resultant crude oil price menace, this ripping effect of inflationary tendencies has over-burdened the recovery process in India. With a surge of 15.08% in WPI and 7.79% in CPI, the turbulence has invited strict actions from the central bank in terms of hiking interest rates with an upward calibrated stance. Amongst these tumultuous situations, several structural questions have started gearing the discussion up in the academic and technocratic fora. Questions about the flaws of the existing framework of inflation targeting, its replication in real terms and possible viable alternatives are reasonable to be discussed. In this piece, we discuss the flaws of the inflation targeting framework in the

Addressing challenges of digital divide, public awareness, inclusive development

How is digital awareness propelling rural development in India? A note by S M Sehgal Foundation: *** John Rawls in his path-breaking book titled, A Theory of Justice, proposed the two following principles that can easily be extended to empowerment and development of all citizens of a country, and in this context, the diverse population of India. (1) Every citizen is entitled to equal rights along with basic liberties (2) Social and economic inequalities are to be balanced in a way such as to: (a) Provide the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, (b) Provide equality of opportunity for all offices and positions. Inclusive growth is a relevant policy goal for the people of India that will result in both growth and inclusion, and follow the Rawlsian “maximin” principle. The target should be to maximize the welfare of the poorest. As we complete 75 years of independence, the diversity and divide in India is still stark and negatively skewed. With a large population still dependent on a

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

West Bengal police inaction in immoral trafficking case of a Muslim woman

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on Muslim woman victim trafficking, police inaction, and need immediate rescue: I am writing to inform you about a case of illegal trafficking and profuse police inaction regarding the same of a marginalized Muslim teenager named Anima Khatun (name changed), daughter of Mr. Osman Ali. The victim and her husband had been residents of the village Daribas, under Dinhata police station Cooch Behar district since their marriage in 2014. Six months following their marriage, Anima Khatun along with her husband, sister-in-law, sister-in-law's husband as well as her in-laws shifted to Delhi in search of work. They stayed there for 2 years after which they all came back to their native village. They stayed at their native residence for about one month and then they went back to Delhi. In Delhi, Anima was in touch with her family till the next six months, after which t