Independent takes the lead on India

Every morning the media team comes together to run through what’s happening in the world. And for the last few weeks I’ve been banging on about India and the unfolding crisis in the northern state of Orissa.Dozens of people have been killed there simply because of their Christian faith, all in what has been described as a violent backlash against the murder of a Hindu leader in August.We at Amnesty first mentioned the crisis five weeks ago, but there was little pick up. Again we went to the papers last week with another press release. The horrors were also mentioned by my fellow Press Team blogger Derek Blanchard last week – recounting the brutal rape of a nun – but still there was little coverage.So full credit to The Independent and Andrew Buncombe for heading to the troubled state and trying to get to the bottom of the story with a moving eyewitness report in today’s paper.He tells the story of Puspanjali Panda. She witnessed her husband – a Christian pastor – being dragged from his bed and beaten to death. She found his corpse two days later. When she went to the police they simply told her to go away.According to The Independent, on top of the 35 reported deaths, 140 churches and prayer halls have been attacked and up to 50,000 people forced to flee. There are now 25 relief camps for Christian minorities.It’s a dire situation and Amnesty is calling for the government to take urgent steps to protect their religious freedoms, provide adequate security and investigate thoroughly all the allegations of violence and murder.The bottom line is that this is a story that should not be allowed to go unreported, and here’s hoping that Andrew Buncombe’s piece gets followed up by his colleagues in the press corp throughout Asia and delivered to a global audience.Then perhaps we might see some meaningful action.

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