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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.

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