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Violence Flares Against Christians in India

John on August 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I’ve written before about anti-Christian violence in India. In December ’07 I excerpted an article which noted:

There have been 500 reported incidents of anti-Christian violence in India in the past 23 months, claimed a Bangalore-based Christian advocacy group this week

That number has been easily doubled in the last weeks alone as rioting Hindu mobs killed eleven, burned at least 20 (but others say 90) churches and 1000 homes belonging to Christians in the area of Orissa (map here):

Christian community leaders say that at least 1,000 Christian homes have been set on fire since Monday, rendering more than 5,000 people homeless.

Many of those living in the jungle were without food or water, said the Rev. Dibakar Parichha, a priest at the Roman Catholic church in Phulbani, a town in Orissa State. Father Parichha said that about 90 places of worship, including small churches and prayer halls, had been burned down. Local officials said the figure was about 20.

What did the Christians do to incite this wave of violence? Nothing:

The latest conflict started Saturday night, when unidentified armed men stormed a Hindu school in Kandhamal and killed the Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his followers. The police suspected that Maoist rebels were responsible. But Hindus blamed Christians.

Despite a curfew and order that allow the police to shoot rioters, the violence continues. Apparently, this is not accidental:

The Rev. Dr. Richard Howell of the Evangelical Fellowship of India said Christians were “saddened” by the Indian Government’s failure to halt the attacks.

He said he had received reports of thousands of extremists being brought in from other states to strengthen the campaign of violence.

“Their agenda is to wipe out Christians and Christianity from India starting from Orissa,” said Dr Howell.

Here’s a picture of a Christian orphanage which was burned out by the mobs. One woman died in this attack.

Update: This site claims the death toll is much higher:

The Orissa state government, ruled by a coalition of Biju Janata Dal party and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has failed to protect the lives and property on Christians, Dr John Dayal, member of the National Integration Council of the Government of India, told ReligiousIntelligence.com. “About 30 Christians have been killed, a nun gang raped, another woman burnt alive, many priests grievously injured and hundreds of houses burnt,” added Dayal, a human rights activist.

Some additional info on how these non-spontaneous riots got started and how it is being carried out:

Reports from Compass Direct News Service say that Hindu extremists paraded the [slain] leader’s body through villages to anger crowds and shouted, “Kill Christians and destroy their institutions.”

Violent mobs have since destroyed churches, homes, orphanages and convents. Woman and young girls have been raped, while pastors, priests, nuns, and Christian lay people have been killed. On Friday, word came from Phulbani District–one of the worst affected areas of Orissa State–that the extremists have compiled a hit-list of Christian leaders to kill. They have already slain five pastors by sword and killed more than twenty-seven other Christians. The extremists have taken an oath to convert Christians to Hinduism by force or to kill all who will not renounce their faith in Christ.

This is religious cleansing, plain and simple. Finally, here’s confirmation that Christians were not responsible for the killing of the Hindu group leader:

Government sources tell NDTV that their assessment is that Christian groups did not kill VHP leader Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati.

In an Orissa daily, Maoist leader Azad has claimed responsibility for killing of the VHP leader.

You can read one survivor’s story here.

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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