The anti-Christian riot victims have started migrating from Kandhamal to safety. Their destination at the moment is the state capital, where the government has set up two relief centres.
Several others have rented accommodations on the city’s peripheries. One such refugee is Pradip Diggal, 24, who worked as a driver in Bhubaneswar before leaving for his village Bastingia in Tikabali block of Kandhamal. Pradip was chased by a mob and beaten up with wooden sticks. He is now back in Bhubaneswar with a fractured leg and his ailing parents.
“Because of my fractured leg, I cannot take up driving now. My former employer has given me some money. I have taken a one-room house on rent for which I’m paying Rs 800 per month. Our village house was completely burnt,” Pradip told Hindustan Times.
Pradip’s family has no source of income now. It’s difficult to imagine why Christians are being targeted like this. Since the days of my grandfather, we have been Christians,” says Pradip.
Sunabati Diggal, a 65-year-old woman who fractured her hand while fleeing to the jungles, has also taken a rented accommodation in Bhubaneswar. Sunabati is from Breka village in Tikabali block of Kandhamal. She said, “We started running towards the jungle as soon as the mob arrived. I fell down on the way and fractured my hand.”
Sunabati, her husband Satada and few other villagers trekked through the jungles to reach Bhanjanagar in Ganjam distric t, nearly 65 km from Kandhamal district headquarters Phulbani.
Indranath Naik, a 53-year-old pastor of the Udaygiri Baptist Church Union, is staying in a tiny tin-roofed house in a Bhubaneswar slum. His house was completely gutted during the riots. He was in the jungles for 10 days before going to a local relief camp. But later, he decided to come to Bhubaneswar. “The fare was Rs 130 and I had only Rs 60 with me. The bus conductor, after listening to me, waived the rest,” he said.
It was an arduous journey for widow Sumitra Diggal (67), a widow from Gadragaon village — nearly 240 km from Bhubaneswar— to reach a Bhubaneswar relief camp. She had to spend three nights in jungles. “We could never imagine that we would face such a terrible tragedy. Nothing is more tragic in life than being forced to leave one's own village and home. ”
Padmanav Diggal, a farmer, still owns four acres of land at Makabali village under K. Nuagaon block. Since his house was completely burnt down, he is now residing in a relief centre.