In 2007 and 2008, Kandhamal, a district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, witnessed organised attacks on Christians in some of the worst communal violence of India’s history.
Through survivors’ testimonies, new documentary Kandhamal 2008 examines how Hindu supremacist groups turned two communities – Adivasi (indigenous) Konds and Pano Dalit Christians – against each other, with the tacit support of the State Government and local administration.
In the violence more than 50,000 people became refugees, 5,000 houses were burnt and destroyed, at least 400 churches, prayer halls and institutions were desecrated, demolished or burnt down, many women and girls were raped, and 38 people killed.
Though the population of the region is extremely poor, the region itself is rich in mineral resources. Multinational mining companies such as Vedanta Resources loom in the background of Kandhamal.
On behalf of the mining industry, the Odisha Government has ruthlessly pursued neo-liberal land acquisition policies formulated by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the World Bank.
The tribal Konds have consistently fought this corporate land grab. Kandhamal 2008 highlights how Hindu supremacist groups and the Odisha State Government have sought to undermine the Kond struggle – through sheer violence.
Screenings of Kandhamal:
Date: 1 November 2011 (tues)
Venue: London School of Economics,
Clement House room CLM.6.02,
The Aldwych, London, WC2
Organiser: South Asia Solidarity
Note: Director of Kandhamal 2008, Samarendra Das, who was born in Odisha and lived most of his life in Kandhamal, will be present at this screening to discuss the background to and making of the film.