Kandhamal Human Rights award 2021 to PUCL

The violence in the Kandhamal and adjoining districts of Odisha in 2007 and 2008 stands out for malevolent targeting of the Christian minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, women and children

PUCLImage Courtesy:mattersindia.com

The National Solidarity Forum has conferred the Kandhamal Human Rights Award to the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) for this year. The acceptance Speech on behalf of PUCL will be delivered by Dr. V Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL soon after the formal function of announcement of the Award for Best Human Rights Activist and Human Rights Organisation between 4 P.M to  4:30 P.M. 

The National Solidarity Forum has instituted two annual awards in honour of  the victims and survivors of the mass violence against Adivasi and Dalit Christians of  Kandhamal and several other districts in Odisha, and some states including Karnataka, in August-September 2008.  The award to an Individual carries a cash component and a plaque. 

The award for non-governmental organisations and groups recognises long and sustained work on issues of human rights and civil liberties, development, harmony and peace building, NSF convenor Dr Ram Puniyani said. The National Solidarity Forum was constituted by over 70 organisations and groups which came together in the wake of the violence, and worked on various issues relating to trauma, counselling, rehabilitation and advocacy for justice. NSF has commemorated Kandhamal Day on August 25 every year will mass meetings in Kandhamal, Bhubaneswar, New Delhi and other places. In 2020, the meeting was in a virtual mode because of Covid, but the three hour programme featured human right activists and senior noted civil society  personalities discussing the challenges faced by marginalised communities with particular emphasis  on the right to life, livelihood and the freedom of religion and belief. 

The commemoration of Kandhamal Day and the Awards function will be once again in the virtual mode. Former Chairman of the National Law Commission and Chief Justice of Delhi High court, Mr Justice A P Shah, former Chief Election Commissioner Mr S Y Qureshi, and the noted film and literature personality, Mr Javed Akhtar will be the chief guests and  Lead speakers. Ms Bhasha Singh, Dr Aruna Gunanadasan,  Ms Dayamani Barla, Mr Henri Tiphagne, and Dr John Dayal have been invited to the National Webinar. 

Kandhamal 2007-2008

In independent India’s chequered history, the violence in the  Kandhamal and adjoining districts of Odisha in 2007 and 2008 stands out for malevolent targeting of the Christian minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, women and children. In this violence, over 100 Christians were killed, several of them from the Clergy, over 75,000 displaced. More than 360 Churches, places of worship and public institutions; namely educational, social services & health institutions were destroyed and looted. Education of 12,000 children disrupted and over 40 women raped, molested and humiliated. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism were reported. 

According to study conducted by Supreme Court Adv Vrinda Grover and Law Prof Saumya Uma, it is reported that the conviction rate is as low as 5.13% of the charge sheeted cases. If one takes complaints as a yardstick of justice process, it is just around 1% only.

Kandhamal violence is a unique case of multiple violations of basic human rights and dignity of the most vulnerable groups. Justice is yet to be done and rights to be restored.


Remembering Kandhamal
Kandhamal: Brotherhood of victims
Kandhamal 2020: We live with the national shame of impunity in perpetuity



Related Articles