Indian Christians in Orissa still face persecution two years after violence
Two years after a wave of violent attacks by Hindu extremists against Christians in Orissa, India, which left 120 dead and 50,000 displaced, survivors and their relatives are still experiencing persecution.
The violence occurred on Aug. 23, 2008 after a Hindu leader was killed. Maoists claimed responsibility, but Hindu extremists expressed their rage at Christians. Some 252 churches, 13 educational institutions and 4,640 homes of Christians were destroyed.
(For background, go to http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2009/08/orissa-one-year-later-fear-persecution-remain-high-10073).
Court cases are still ongoing. One victim, an Indian nun, identified in court recently five attackers who raped her, including the one who stood on her hand while the crime was done, Catholic News Service reported.
Some 19 people were arrested for attacking the nun and forcing her to walk down the streets half naked, according to Catholic News Service.
Worthy News reported that survivors and their relatives in Orissa state are still being pressured to convert to Hinduism. A preliminary report of a fact-finding team said, “Despite the state administration’s claim of normalcy, a state of lawlessness and utter fear and sense of insecurity” prevails.
The fact-finding team visited four villages in Kandhamal district earlier this month. Worthy News reported that a pastor in Tikabali said he was forced to convert to Hinduism so his aged mother, who cannot walk, would not be attacked.
In Bodimunda village Hindu extremists also do not allow any Christians or their belongings to be transported by vehicle, and Christians may not avail of basic needs, Worthy News said.
Christians may not bring in medicines or provisions, cannot purchase from local shops, and have no stores of their own, according to Worthy News. A number of Christians were forced to display pictures of Hindu gods for protection from attacks.
A 2001 census said that out of 648,201 people who live in Kandhamal district, 117,950 are Christians. Most of them are from the Dalit class, formerly known as the “untouchables,” Worthy News reported.
According to Worthy News, Christians said that local administrators are suspected to be collaborating with the Hindu extremists, and they receive no government protection.
The fact-finding team includes attorney Nicholas Barla and human rights activists Jugal Kishore Ranjit and Ajay Kumar Singh, according to Worthy News.