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Violence Against Christians in India Continues

John on September 21, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Six days ago, the Washington Post did a story on violence in Orissa:

Babita Nayak was cooking lunch for her pregnant sister when a mob of Hindu extremists wielding swords, hammers and long sticks rampaged through their village, chanting “India is for Hindus! Convert or leave!”

The men, wearing saffron headbands, ransacked dozens of huts, searching for cash and looting bicycles and livestock. They torched the village church, leaving behind burned Bibles in the local Kui language and torn-down posters of Jesus. “Christianity is a foreign religion,” they shouted over bullhorns, according to eyewitness and police reports.

Hearing that such attacks were spreading in the mist-shrouded hills of this destitute part of Orissa state, the sisters fled with hundreds of neighbors, trekking through forest land. After two days, they reached this crowded makeshift relief camp, set up on the campus of a dank high school, 15 miles from their village.

“I just want to go home and rest before the birth,” wept Shyamala Nayak, who is seven months pregnant, as her wailing 3-year-old daughter tugged on her sari. The sisters and dozens of others huddled under a sweltering and leaky tent. The stench of urine wafted through.
“If we go back, they will kill us,” her sister told her firmly, reaching for her hand. “We must stay.

Babita’s sister was correct about what would happen if they returned. Just yesterday, another Christian staying in the relief camps, risked a journey home to visit his father who he’d been told was ill:

Iswar Digal (33) had left the relief camp in Phulbani town, about 250km from here, last morning to see his ailing father. Iswar, along with his wife Pranati, was returning to the camp — about 7km from the village — after visiting his paralytic father at Gatringia village in Tikabali block in the district when he was abducted from the road passing through a forest around 8.30pm. Pranati also alleged that he had been hacked to death…

Iswar had chosen to hide in the forest during the day and only came out to see his father at night.

The news of his homecoming apparently reached the tribals, who had been waiting for him throughout the day, police sources said.

The violence may be spreading:

Suspected Hindu radicals in India ransacked three churches near the city of Bangalore on Sunday despite a crackdown after anti-Christian attacks in the region, reports said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the vandalised churches were on the outskirts of Bangalore, the capital of southern Karnataka state, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP party.

Bangalore is further south and inland from where most of the violence has occurred so far. Is the government going to continue letting this take place? It appears they’ve finally taken a serious step toward stopping it:

On Saturday police arrested Mahendra Kumar, head of the Dal’s branch in Karnataka, and charged him with inciting sectarian attacks, which began a week ago.

The Dal is Bajrang Dal, an extremist Hindu group which observers say are behind most of the violence so far. Some have even gone so far as to claim that Bajrang Dal is working with the knowledge and support of the governing BJP party. Members of the BJP deny the accusations and claim it’s all part of a plot to bring them down.

It’s all but impossible to discern the truth from this remove. What’s not in question is that thousands of Christians have had their homes burned and are living in relief camps. When they attempt to return home, they face being murdered by Hindu mobs.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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