Agony in Orissa - Christians being killed and displaced - India\'s silent tragedy

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Agony in Orissa - Christians being killed and displaced - India's silent tragedy

An unrecorded tragedy is happening in the Indian state of Orissa, huge numbers of Christians are being displaced, attacked, and churches burnt.

These abuses are not covered in the media with a media blackout happening from the State authorities.

So far in the last 2 weeks the following have happened..
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Since 23 August, in the state of Orissa,
1,100 churches have been burnt;
18,000 families attacked
78,000 Christians displaced,
13,000 in refugee camps;
more than 100 have been killed
and 36,000 thousand injured.

Calls have come for government intervention and protection. Too little, too late for many. A media black-out has throttled news. Even central government requests for access to the affected rural areas have been denied by the state government.

Christian lawyers cannot go there to help make First Information Reports (FIRs). Three weeks later, the situation is unchanged. It is a systematically organized attempt to displace Christians from the state.

christian-perscution-in-orissa.jpg - 52.26kb
By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

Further reports include
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I am not sure if the media there has kept you all informed about the persecution that has increased here over the last month.

The current government has been doing everything possible against Christianity.

More than 25 churches have been destroyed and approximately 16 pastors have been brutally killed over the last 15 days. Seven of them were from the state of Orissa and 9 were from our state.

Yesterday our state government met to plan on how to erase Christian institutions here. We have never seen persecution such as this. Many Christians are being forcefully re-converted to Hinduism.

Due to threats, we have not had church services in many places for almost a month now. Please pray for our safety as we go through these tough times.

By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

Video outlining the fighting

By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

More on this tragedy
By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

More reports of the violence and the background.

Three churches near India's southern city of Bangalore have been ransacked by suspected Hindu extremists, despite a government crackdown on anti-Christian attacks.

Police believe a right-wing Hindu group vandalised the churches, and have arrested their leader. More than two dozen churches have now been attacked in the southern state of Karnataka over the past week.

It follows similar clashes in the eastern state of Orissa in which up to 20 people died. Karnataka's 2.5 million Christians say they're being targetted for opposing the violence in Orissa.

The wave of violence and destruction follows weeks of anti-Christian militancy in the eastern state of Orissa in which 20 people have been killed and thousands forced to flee from their homes and take refuge in the surrounding jungles.

Tension still runs high in many parts of the state. But the sudden spurt of anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, which has until now spared the large-scale clash between Christians and Hindus, is causing major concern to the government in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has dispatched a fact-finding team, comprising members of the National Minorities Commission (NCM) and National Commission for Women (NCW). Junior home minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal also led a delegation to Bhubaneshwar, Orissa's state capital to get a first hand account of the situation.

The seeds for the current conflict were planted on August 23, when a Hindu leader, Laxmananda Saraswati, and four others were killed in the district of Kandhamal in Orissa after 20 to 30 gunmen barged into a Hindu school and began shooting.

At the heart of the violence is anger among rightwing Hindu groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal over the issue of conversions to Christianity, especially among members of the Dalit and other "untouchable" classes.

KRISHNAN: In Orissa, fearful Christians have been forced to reconvert back to Hinduism to save themselves from being killed by the mobs, who have destroyed hundreds of churches and homes.

Police said the violence in Karnataka was led by the right-wing Hindu Bajrang Dal organisation, and that attackers on motorcycles had gone to each church during prayers, sending worshippers fleeing for their lives.

Father Babu Joseph of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India says the magnitude of violence this time was huge. He refused to name the outfits involved but said the Hindu groups were creating social unrest.

JOSEPH: This time the magnitude is much more than ever before. Particularly in Orissa, for about three weeks it has been going on and on, and nearly 50,000 people have lost their homes, and institutions have been destroyed, and unfortunately it has now also spread to Karnataka, particularly this area, where a lot of Christian population is there.

KRISHNAN: Orissa has historically been a tinderbox of Hindu-Christian tensions that has often seen clashes between the two communities. In January 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were killed when a mob set fire to the vehicle in which they were sleeping outside a church in Manoharpur, a tribal village in the Keonjhar district.

Hindus account for 83 percent of India's more than 1 billion population, while Christians make up 2.4 percent. The fresh round of violence has led many in the Christian community to fear for their calm.

By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

Another really good article on the background to the violence and how extremists Hindu groups are trying to establish a Hindu state.
By netchicken: posted on 22-9-2008

This article outlines some f the reasons for the attacks, basically life for Christians is too good for non Christians.

The attacks on the Christian community are not restricted only to Mangalore or Orissa, but have spread to other states like Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and even the national capital.

They are military-like operations, carried out with clinical precision and are brutal, with no discrimination -- sparing, neither clergy, women nor children. The objectives are manifold -- consolidation of the Hindu vote, polarisation of the majority and minorities, demonising the community, crippling Christians economically.

These attacks, when they happen in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, are nothing short of government-sponsored terrorism, while in other places it is sheer mobocracy, using brute force, with the authorities unable to act because of political compulsions of not getting on the wrong side of the majority.

The vested political and economic interests are hitting back with vengeance. Christians are sitting ducks, where no or negligible retaliation expected. The Church works in areas, where even the government dares not to go because it is not profitable.

The Church's education, healthcare and social services in these backward areas has empowered the weak, poor and deprived vested interests of vote banks and cheap labour. The emancipation through education, healthcare, awareness of alternatives and provision of opportunities have set the oppressed classes free from the clutches of the upper caste or rich Hindus and slavery of their political masters.

These interests are therefore hitting back at the Christians to maintain their hold on those, whom they have been exploiting since ages.

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I have been to most districts affected by the anti-Christian violence in India and I can claim to be among the few to have done so.

I have spoken to hundreds and listened to almost a thousand victims. The stories are horrifying. My feelings from ground zero have been so traumatic that I just could not sleep since then. Last week, it was the three priests with whom I stayed when I visited Orissa, who gave me sleepless nights, seeing them brutally injured.

But what brought tears to my eyes were the helpless cloistered sisters in Mangalore, who were attacked. We met cardinals, bishops, pastors, priests and lay leaders in many places, across the country. Their plight moved me.

It is not the government that rules the roost in most states - the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bajrang Dal do. And this is only the beginning.
By netchicken: posted on 24-9-2008

Orissa - The place where the missionary Graham Steins was burnt to death in his van along with his two sons.

While India is on its way to be a developed nation, how many people can ignore the fact that India is deteriorating on the other side..?
By netchicken: posted on 24-9-2008

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