Indian Supreme Court Warns Orissa Over Religious Violence

January 7, 2009

Author: Achal Narayanan

Source: Religion News Service

India's Supreme Court has told the state government of Orissa that it will not "tolerate persecution of religious minorities" and if the state government cannot protect Christians, "then quit office."

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court issued the warning Monday (Jan. 5) following a petition filed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who requested protection for his flock in Orissa and compensation for church properties that have been damaged in the ongoing violence.

Such rulings by judges of Indian courts may not always have the force of law, but they carry considerable weight and often influence the future actions of lawmakers and government officials.

The violence between Hindus and the minority Christian population began after the Aug. 23 murder of Swami Laxmanananda, a Hindu religious leader, in Orissa's Kandhamal district.

The Supreme Court said the retaliatory violence against Christians in Orissa could not be tolerated anymore, and criticized the state government for failing to stop the violence earlier.