A Catholic priest, who bore the brunt of the 2008 horrific anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s
Kandamal, has been awarded the Minority Rights Day Award by the National Minority Commission.
Rightwing Hindu organisations in Orissa
had protested the decision, alleging that Father Ajay Singh had criminal cases pending against him, which has turned out to be propaganda.
The minority commission has defended its decision to award Singh and the Odisha’s government had informed it that there was no case against Singh anywhere in the states. “He was given the award for his contribution towards upholding of minority rights,” NCM chief Wajahat Habibullah said.
In 2007 December and August 2008, following the killing of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati by Maoists, the Christian community in Kandamal and elsewhere were targeted, in which over 100 people were killed and nearly 170 Christian institutions were completely or partially destroyed.
The violence was unleashed by the Sangh Parivar after they accused the missionaries for the killing of the Swami, despite the police reporting it otherwise.