India was Thursday urged to initiate a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and the ensuing violence in Orissa in 2008.
In its annual report documenting religious freedom abuses and limitations in 28 countries around the world, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the US government to urge India to pursue, investigate, and bring charges against the perpetrators of the killings and arson in Orissa, as well as any forced reconversions.
Kandhamal district was the epicenter for riots from August to October 2008 when hundreds of churches were burnt and thousands were forced to flee their homes by rampaging mobs.
In its report, the USCIRF urged India to establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure that all compensation schemes, including those promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were carried out in a timely manner and any families unable to produce the body of an individual killed by rioters be not excluded from compensation schemes
It also stressed the need for mobilizing security forces to ensure that internally displaced persons residing in government relief camps or elsewhere are allowed to safely return to their villages without the threat of violence or harassment.
In addition to that, it asked to ensure that the use or threat of violence or harassment to bring about forced conversions or “reconversions” are prosecuted promptly under existing laws prohibiting harassment and violence.
The report further called to recognize the unique link between poverty, tribal identity, and communal violence in Orissa, and implement development schemes to address poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, and the lack of adequate education and health infrastructure.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission. Its principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the US President.
CBI probe into Orissa violence urged
By: John Malhotra
Friday, 30 April 2010, 15:45 (IST)
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