The Bible Society of India observed the 13th Anniversary of Kandhamal Day as a day to commemorate the onslaught of Christians living in Kandhamal town at Phulbani District in Odisha in the year 2008, resulting in many horrifying deaths, and destructions of Church buildings, individual houses, shops and loss of huge properties. Thousands of them are left in deep pain, with immense traumatizing memories as innocent girls and women were gang-raped, many were arrested as culprits, some were convicted for life imprisonment. 

Mr. Anto Akkara, a renowned Journalist at the National and International level from Thrissur, Kerala was our Guest Speaker of the day. Mr. Anto Akkara, along with committed lawyers, is tirelessly pursuing justice for those victims of violence for the Christians in Kandhamal. With his rich experience in journalism and case studies, with the practical knowledge of the Indian Penal Code as a degree holder of the Bachelor of Legislative Law or Legum Baccalaureus (LLB), and as a Christian activist, Mr. Anto had shared his deep personal experience and the testimony of faith that he came across in the past 13 years. He concluded his sharing with a remark saying “Kandhamal experience is no more a painful tale to tell, but it is a story of Christian faith in Christ and a story of the people of God who are the peacemakers in the midst of struggles for Human Rights, Justice, and Dignity. It is a story of borderless love as neighbors living in Kandhamal town irrespective of their tribes, castes, and faith.” 

Mr. Anto, through his personal prayer unveils the long and winding roads he still needs to travel until all the victims of injustice are acquitted from Conviction of Life Imprisonment for a crime they had never committed by the High Court of Odisha. Let us earnestly join Mr. Anto as he prays:

“Oh, my Jesus, you crucified despite being innocent. Hundreds are undergoing captivity and imprisonment worldwide for no fault of their.  Your folks in Kandhamal jungles of Odisha gave heroic witness when they were asked under death threat to forsake their faith in you in 2008.  Dozens of them embraced martyrdom for their faith.  Thousands held on to their faith even after their Churches were destroyed, houses were plundered and they were banished from their villages.

As the violence subsided, seven innocent Christiana were branded as ‘murderers’, put behind bars and convicted to life imprisonment.  Eleven years later, all of them have been released on bail by the Supreme Court of India.  We thank you, Lord, for that relief to the innocent Christians.  However, appeal against their conviction of life imprisonment for a crime they never committed is still pending before the High Court of Odisha.

“Ask and you will be given,” Lord You taught us.  We humbly beseech You to ensure acquittal of these innocents at the earliest so that the conspiracy theory against Christians is disproved, paving way for truth and justice to prevail.

We entrust the struggling families of these seven to Your care and protection. Lord, bless the valiant Christians for their heroic witness in Kandhamal, soaked in the blood of martyrs.”  Amen.

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