The trouble began on 24th December at 8:00 a.m. at Bamunigam village, close to the police station under Daringibadi Block of Kandhamal District. Some Hindu Fundamentalists forcefully removed [a] Christmas decoration, which the Ambedkar Baniko Sangho comprising the local Christian entrepreneurs had put up as a preparation for Christmas, with due permission of the administration. This was followed by an exchange of words between two groups, as the fundamentalists insisted that the people stop Christmas celebrations. Within a few minutes a group of people, who were stationed close by, pounced on the members of Ambedkar Baniko Sangho with sticks, knives, other lethal weapons, and guns and other firearms.
Seeing this armed gang coming to attack them, the people dispersed out of fear. The fundamentalists shot at the people with their guns, critically injuring two of them. They also destroyed about fifteen shops belonging to the Christians after looting the shops and houses. Six or seven members of Ambedkar Baniko Sangho were beaten up by the mob.
I can well understand the wounded psyche of Hindus against the Church…. There was no problem when Christians were not here…. With their numbers increasing, they forcefully took away Hindu girls and forced the neo-converts to eat beef. They set several temples on fire….
This is the modus operandi of churches and Christians of all denominations—put up a small prayer house in the middle of a Hindu locality, close to a temple, and after a few years of missionary activity, transform the prayer house into a big church [with] insolent symbols…towering Jesus Christ statues obstructing the skyline, towering steeples with a cross atop, which is visible from a long distance, new and big churches close to old and popular temples….
Christians in India must understand and understand fast that they cannot be protected by the US…Christians can be protected only by the good will of the majority Hindus in whose midst they have to live. It is time for the country and Hindu organizations in particular to consider that religious freedom enshrined in the constitution has to be matched by a constitutional provision that unequivocally bans religious conversion of Hindus to Abrahamic faiths. Christians have to earn the good will of the Hindus.
I learned with deep sorrow of the acts of violence perpetrated against the Christian communities in the Indian state of Orissa, subsequent to the deplorable assassination of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, a Hindu leader. So far several people have been killed and various others have been injured. Centers of worship that belong to the Church have also been destroyed, as well as private homes. While I firmly condemn every attack against human life, whose sacredness demands the respect of all, I express my spiritual closeness and solidarity to the brothers and sisters in the faith who have been so harshly tried. I implore the Lord to accompany and sustain them at this time of suffering and to give them the strength to continue in the service of love on behalf of all. I ask religious leaders and civil authorities to work together to re-establish among the members of the various communities the peaceful coexistence and harmony that have always been a hallmark of Indian society.
- On September 5, four Missionaries of Charity nuns were attacked at a train station in Chhattisgarh, a state that borders Orissa, and accused of kidnapping and converting orphans
- On September 7, a Protestant church was burned down in the central Indian state Madhya Pradesh.
- On September 18, fire was set to the altar of the cathedral in the central Indian city of Jabalpur.
- On September 20, two churches were attacked in the southwestern Catholic stronghold of Kerala; Church officials emphasized the attacks were unrelated to other violence.
- On September 22, thieves ransacked a church in the eastern Indian city of Jamshedpur, and a priest in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand was found strangled to death.
There was not one word in his statement about the 40,000 persons displaced and in relief camps, not one word about the 4,200 homes destroyed, and not one word about the 45 persons—including a [Protestant] pastor who was cut to pieces just a few days ago in front of his wife—who have been murdered.… We know that in cases of attack and even rape the police just stood by and took no action. What is left to destroy now?
- On October 3, Orissa police arrested four suspects in the August 25 rape of Sister Meena.
- On October 6, police arrested three Maoists in connection with the assassination of Swami Lakshmananda.
- On October 6, police arrested 40 in connection with anti-Christian violence, bringing the total arrested since August to 1,000. The “situation is under control,” said a Kandhamal police official. “No violence has been reported from any part of the district in the past three days.”
- On October 7, Sister Nirmala — Mother Teresa’s successor as superior of the Missionaries of Charity— met with Patnaik.
Every night, defying the curfew imposed from 10 o’clock until 5 in the morning, extremist Hindu groups roam around the villages in these remote areas with flashlights, bringing destruction everywhere they go.… After the physical destruction and human casualties, now it is the turn of the animals. Hens, goats, buffalo, and oxen are being stolen. In various villages, after the destruction of the homes belonging to Christians, the extremists are killing the goats and hens, and celebrating amid the ruins.
Our people are being treated like animals. They have been given just one blanket per family and sanitation and hygiene are simply non-existent. But what is even more tragic is the fact that they are not even allowed to pray, and are instead closely monitored by security forces.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!