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Kandhamal Human Rights Awards announced

National Solidarity Forum decides to honour two eminent individuals and two reputed organizations for their tremendous work in the promotion of human rights, social justice, and secular and democratic values in our country and confer them with the Kandhamal Human Rights Award for the Year 2022.

1. Kandhamal Human Rights Award (Individual category) to Adv. Shakil Ahmed, Human Rights Lawyer and Peace Activist based in Mumbai

2. Kandhamal Human Rights Award (Organization category) to National Alliance of People’s Movements - an alliance of people’s movements and organizations in India

3. Kandhamal Human Rights Award (Special Honour) to Shri Himanshu Kumar, founder of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and well-known Gandhian Activist

4. Kandhamal Human Rights Award (Special Honour) to Kandhamal Survivors’ Association - a platform for survivors of Kandhamal violence engaged in Peace and communal harmony throughout the years.

The National Solidarity Forum, in pursuance of its commitment to the defence of human rights, has instituted two National Annual Awards Kandhamal Human Rights Awards in 2021 to recognize and honour individuals and groups in India engaged in the challenging task of defending human rights of disadvantaged sections of society.

The Kandhamal Human Right Awards recognize individuals/organizations/movements for their outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights, social justice and equitability for all. 

The Awards are in honour of the victims and survivors of the mass violence against Adivasi and Dalit Christians of Kandhamal and several other districts in Odisha, and some states including Karnataka, in August-September 2008.  The award to an Individual carries a cash component and a plaque.

The award for non-governmental organizations and groups recognizes long and sustained work on issues of human rights and civil liberties, development, harmony and peacebuilding.

An independent jury selects the awardees. The jury for the Year 2022 comprised of Sayeeda Hamida, Padmashree Awardee, former Planning Commission Member of GOI, former member, NCW, New Delhi, Adv V Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL, Chennai and Adv Henri, Executive Director, People Watch, Madurai, Chair, Asia-Forum

The Promoters of Kandhamal Human Rights (KHR) Awards are: Dr Ram Puniyani, Goa
Dr John Dayal, New Delhi; Irfaan Engineer, Mumbai; Brinelle D'Souza, TISS, Mumbai
Vidya Dinker, Mangalore; KP Sasi, Thrissur (died last Christmas); Dr Stanley William, Chennai/Hyderabad; Dhirendra Panda, Bhubaneswar; Ajaya Kumar Singh.

The National Solidarity Forum was constituted by over 70 organizations and groups which came together in the wake of the violence and worked on various issues relating to trauma, counselling, rehabilitation and advocacy for justice. NSF has commemorated Kandhamal Day on 25th August every year with mass meetings in Kandhamal, Bhubaneswar, New Delhi and other places.

In independent India’s chequered history, the violence in the Kandhamal and adjoining districts of Odisha in 2007 and 2008 stands out for malevolent targeting of the Christian minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, women and Children were violated with impunity. In this violence apart, over 100 Christians were killed, several of them from the Clergy, and over 75,000 were displaced. More than 360 Churches, places of worship and public institutions; namely educational, social services & health institutions were destroyed and looted. Education of 12000 children was disrupted and over 40 women were raped, molested and humiliated. Several cases of forced conversion to Hinduism were reported.

According to a study conducted by Supreme Court Adv Vrinda Grover and Law Prof Saumya Uma, it is reported that the conviction rate is as low as 5.13% of the charge-sheeted cases. If one takes complaints as a yardstick of the justice process, it is just around 1% only. Kandhamal violence is a unique case of multiple violations of basic human rights and dignity of the most vulnerable groups. Justice is yet to be done and rights to be restored.

Kandhamal Human Rights Awards are given to Activists and Groups in Defence of Human Rights, Democracy, and Secularism in India. - with inputs from Presse release of the National Solidarity Forum.


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