Christians in the Orissa state of India have been undergoing repeated violence since December, with a particular increase over the last month. Fides, the Vatican agency reported more than ten episodes in which Christians, including pregnant women and children, were injured by attackers in Malkangiri district. Evangelical Pastor Vijay Purusu reported that the Christians are being attacked and beaten in night raids. Local sources told Fides that the perpetrators belong to the same militant fundamentalist Hindu movement, “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,” that was responsible for a wave of attacks in 2007-2008, which resulted in the destruction of 6,600 Christian homes. The sources reported that the perpetrators of those attacks have not yet been punished, and thus there is fear that this newest wave of violence will escalate again. One Christian, who spoke anonymously to Fides, stated, “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.”
The Koya tribal Christians living in different villages in Malkangiri district have borne the brunt of a series of anti- Christian’s violence since 8 December, 2010. In Katanpali village, about 35 Hindu extremists stormed the house of Pastor Mark Markani and beat him. Christians have suffered midnight raids on prayer meetings in which they have been beaten, reported Pastor Purusu, resulting in some Christians fleeing their homes and going into hiding. At least four families have left their village and not returned due to extremist warnings, reported the Malkangiri District Christian Manch (MDCM).
The Manch has met with the District Collector and Superintendent of Police and a memorandum was also submitted to the state Chief Minister on 27 January. “Delayed action of the police and less police force on duty aggravated the matter” reported our correspondent. Speaking to EFI, the District Collector, Mr R.V Krishna, said that peace committees were set up in various villages and they have been very active. “The main cause of tension is due to the clashes between the cultural practices of the convert Christians and the local tribal. About 30 people who attacked the Christians were arrested in January,” he added.
However, according to local Christians, the peace committees have failed to restore peace in the region. In the latest incident in Murliguda, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Malkangiri town, about 60 assailants from the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on 23 February damaged the eardrums of Bhadan Hontal and beat another Christian, Markari Soma, until he fell unconscious, according to a report by the MDCM. According to the area church leaders, the growing attacks on Christians were a symptom of fear among the Hindu extremists that the Christians and Church are doing well in many fields. The Christians’ social and educational ministries have been misunderstood as an allurement to convert other faith to Christianity.
Amid these anti-Christian incidents in the areas, on 16 February, R.V Krishna the Malkangiri District Collector and a junior engineer were kidnapped by Naxalites. R.V Krishna was finally released on 23 February. On 3 March, area Christian leaders again met the District Collector and he assured them that immediate action will be taken. In the meantime the persecuted Christians were sent some rice and essential items by the church and district administration.
Source: Catholic Secular Forum