Release the seven innocents of Kandhamal

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Seven innocent Christians from remote Kandhamal district in Odisha state of India are languishing in jail following the mysterious murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008. These innocent Christians - six of them illiterates including a mentally challenged - were convicted in 2013 for the murder touted as a Christian conspiracy.

Following the Hindu leader's murder, nearly 100 Christians had been killed and 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses plundered and torched in unabated violence that continued for weeks. Hindu masses - most of them illiterate - had been incited to take revenge on the Christians after the slain Swami's body was paraded across Kandhamal for two days along zigzag routes.

A third judge of the trial court - after two judges were transferred - convicted the accused Christians and sentenced them to life imprisonment on the basis of a fabricated Christian conspiracy theory despite hardly any credible evidence brought before the court. In mid 2015, two top police officials - who had relied upon the same conspiracy theory to ensure the conviction of the accused - have testified before the Kandhamal judicial Inquiry commission that the allegations were false.

Yet, the hearing on the appeal of the innocent convicts has been pending in the Odisha High Court. Hence, I urge the Chief Justice of India, Odisha High Court and other constitutional authorities to end the travesty of justice and release the seven innocents...