August 28, 2008
3000 or more Christians homeless due to India riots
Death toll and property damage still being assessed after mobs targeted Christians in Orissa.
This situation in Orissa state seems to get worse by the hour.
Finally, major American media is waking up to this sickening story. Here's the latest from the New York Times and their in-country correspondent:
NEW DELHI - At least 3,000 people, most of them Christians, are living in government-run relief camps after days of Christian-versus-Hindu violence in eastern India, government officials said.
The government said that many people were also living in the jungle without any shelter and security because of the tensions, which erupted in violence after a Hindu leader was killed Saturday. At least 10 people, most of them Christians, have been killed since.
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.
The violence has occurred in Kandhamal, a district in Orissa State that has a history of communal and ethnic clashes. 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. In the retaliatory violence, 500 houses were burned. All nine towns in the district are under a curfew, and the police have license to shoot. At least two people have been killed in violent reprisals in other districts of Orissa, including a woman who died when an orphanage was burned down.
What would drive Hindus to blame Christians? Orissa is one of the hot spots where allegations about coerced conversion to Christianity seem always to lie just under the surface.
The news media inside India are a lot less shy about stating the extremist allegations of Hindu fundamentalists:
The People's Liberation Revolutionary Group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Azad, claiming to represent the group, called up newspaper offices to say, "We killed the Swami as he was mixing religion with politics..."
Swami Laxamanananda was spearheading the re-conversion movement in the district to bring back converted Christians to the Hindu fold.
VHP leaders disagree with the police theory blaming Maoists and believe that they are "hoodwinking people by shifting the blame". State VHP secretary Gouri Prasad Rath told HT: "This attack is the handiwork of the Christians. There were four home guards at the ashram. Had the attackers been Maoists, they would have first attacked these cops. Swamiji was fighting the missionaries for four decades. We see a clear Christian conspiracy behind this attack."
Click here for the full article from the Hindustan Times.
This episode is a huge set back for the national government in India.