A Catholic priest, who bore the brunt of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal, has been awarded the Minority Rights Day Award by national minorities commission.
Rightwing Hindu organisations in Odisha had protested the decision, alleging that Father Ajay Singh had criminal cases pending against him, which turned out to be propaganda. The minority commission defended its decision to award Singh after the Odisha government informed it that there was no case against Singh. “He was given the award for his contribution towards upholding minority rights,” NCM chief Wajahat Habibullah said.
In December 2007 and August 2008, following the killing of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati by Maoists, the Christian community in Kandhamal and elsewhere were targeted. 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 of killing the Swami.