A moving documentary titled ‘Release of Kandhamal’s 7 Innocents and Power of Prayer’ premiered on December 10, International Human Rights Day, in Chennai, South India.
The 30-minute documentary brought out by journalist Anto Akkara was released at the Assembly of Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) in Chennai during Dec 9-11 that dealt with the theme ‘Journalists called to be prophetic Communicators’.
This documentary tells the amazing story of the Seven Innocent Christians - Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalenseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanathan Badamajhi - who were fraudulently accused of killing 81-year-old Swami Lakshmanananda on Janmashtami night of August 2008.
The fundamentalist saffron outfits used the incident to justify the protracted Kandhamal bloodshed.
“This documentary recounts the decade-long travails of the 7 Innocent Christians of Kandhamal behind bars due to a political fraud,” said journalist author Akkara who has carried on a spirited campaign for their release with the website www.release7innocents.com.
These seven Christians – six of them illiterates and one of them dumb -were arrested and had been convicted to life imprisonment in 2013 in a dubious verdict by a third judge after two judges had been transferred and Fast Track Court shut down.
Despite widespread criticism of the ‘absurd’ verdict, Odisha High Court denied bail to the ‘innocent’ Christians a second time in 2018, forcing the Christian legal team to move the Supreme Court which released them on bail in 2019 – 11 years after their arrest.
“Without losing hope and displaying unflinching faith, the illiterate Christians even converted the jail into a prayer chapel trusting in the Lord,” said Akkara who has accompanied the innocents behind bars and their families for over a decade.
He organized a Prayer Campaign too for the release of the 7 Innocents.
The St Titus Brandsma award-winning journalist Akkara has exposed the fraud and travesty of justice in Kandhamal with a documentary ‘Innocents Imprisoned’ on the 10th anniversary of Kandhamal in 2018. It is dubbed into Odia, Hindi and Malayalam.
The documentaries about Kandhamal persecution and the incredible witness of the valiant Christians in different languages are linked at the Youtube page ‘Bear Witness to the Truth.’
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.