India: new wave of anti-Christian violence in Orissa

A new wave of attacks is causing terror in the Christian community. Fides sources report that  tribal Christians in the district of Malkangiri, Orissa, have suffered repeated attacks since December. In the last month, the violence has intensified. More than ten incidents have been registered, during which several of the faithful were injured, among them pregnant women and children.

According to Pastor Vijay Purusu, from the Evangelical Church, “Bethel Church”, Christians have been attacked and beaten in night raids. At least four families have fled their homes.

Orissa (central-eastern India), and in particular the district of Khandamal, was the scene of a massive series of attacks and aggression against Christians in 2007-2008, when over 6,600 Christian homes were destroyed and more than 56,000 people were left homeless. Now, members of the local Christian community  say they fear another wave of attacks has begun - lead by the same militant fundamentalist Hindu movement responsible for the attacks three years ago: the  'Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh' (RSS). Those atrocities went unpunished, and local authorities appear to be ignoreing the situation.

Christians in recent weeks, reported the violence to local police, but they took no action.  “The attacks are motivated by the fact that the Hindus continue to despise and envy the good work done by Christians in the social, health and welfare sectors,” a source told Fides.

Meanwhile, Orissa remains at the centre of the political scene: The All India Christian Council (AICC) sent a Memorandum to the Indian Union Minister for the Interior, Fr Chidambaram and the Prime Minister of the State of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik, calling for the founding of a 'National Investigation Agency', to establish the responsibility of the Hindu extremist network 'Sangh Parivar' in anti-Christian violence which erupted in Orissa in 2008.

John Dayal, AICC leader, said that “there is no doubt that the Sangh Parivar elements are involved in the violence.”

Another serious incident, reported by Fides, relates to the state of Rajasthan, in north-western India. A Christian Pastor in Jaipur, from the Adivasi tribe, was forced to walk naked for more than five kilometres on the city's main road, mocked by some young Hindu extremists on motorcycles who abused, stripped and beat him. The incident, not reported by the local media, occurred on 1 February. However, more than a month after it was reported to police, none of the perpetrators has been arrested.

Source: Fides

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