Tuesday, August 26, 2008

*Christianity in Orissa is being burnt at the stake* - Anonymous

This is an emergency. There is a pogrom-like campaign being carried out
today in most districts of Orissa, with the worst situation in the central
district of Kondhamal. All over the state, Churches and Christians are being
systematically attacked. And the outside world doesn't know.
Some of you may know that the district of Kondhamal (or Phulbani) in the
middle of Orissa was racked by violence in December 2007, just 8 months ago.
The violence erupted on Christmas Eve, when there was an attack on the
cavalcade of Swami Lokananda Saraswati, a leader of the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad. This happened on top of a mounting agitation by the tribal
organization, Kui Samaj, against Dalits and their claim for tribal status.
The two together made a potent combination. Almost immediately a cascade of
events followed, with trees cut all over the district to close off roads,
and mobs on a trail of destruction. Four days later, so much was lost –
Churches, Christian NGO's and infrastructure were selectively destroyed. In
the fights that broke out at least 300 Hindu houses and 300 Christian houses
were destroyed.
An Enquiry Commission was set up to probe into the violence. This last week
we have seen news reports of people giving evidence to the Commission. Some
have been alleging that the whole thing was pre-planned and orchestrated by
the VHP. And in the middle of all this, an armed group of maybe 20-30 people
broke into the Ashram of Swami Lokananda and shot him and 4 others. Press
reports suggested this was the work of Maoists. The VHP says it was the
Christians. Even as the body of the Swamiji was being brought to his home in
procession for the funeral rites, a state-wide bandh was called. The Press
reported that the Bandh was complete almost throughout Orissa, with all
traffic stopped, trains held up, shops and offices closed, schools and
colleges shut etc, while protest processions were taken out in most towns.
But what the media did not report was the huge campaign of violence that has
been unleashed in district after district, and town after town. The district
of Kondhamal was cut off exactly as was done in December, but this time the
reports coming out are of vicious violence, targeting Christians and their
homes; priests and nuns; Churches and Christian Organisations. We are
hearing desperate cries from friends in the districts ; one girl whose house
was destroyed with a bomb last evening ; she and her family are hiding in
the forest now. Another of our girls, saying her house has been burned down
and she can't locate her family members. Another called to say nuns are
being raped and priests kidnapped. There are reports of arson and
destruction of Churches from all over Orissa – Boipariguda and Narayanpatna
in Koraput District, Umerkote in Nabarangapur District, Muniguda and
Bissamcuttack in Rayagada District, Padampur in Bargarh District and so on.
The news we are getting is that the Police and the District Administrations
are trying their best to control situations, but they are far too few in the
face of simultaneous movement of multiple mobs.
All sorts of agendas and scores are being settled under the cover of a
"spontaneous backlash". It is neither spontaneous or a backlash. The
innocent are made scape-goats.
I write this as night is falling on the 25th of August 2008. Officially the
Bandh is over. Roads are being cleared and traffic is beginning to move. But
will the violence end ? And who will count the losses ? Or do we just go
back to work as usual. Does India care ? The National Press is busy with
J&K, and Singur and Beijing. We are too insignificant to warrant reporting.
But Information is our only hope. The news must be publicized. People
outside have to know what is happening. And so I write to you. Please look
and listen. And pray for us.
(Given the risks involved, I prefer not to put my name on to this piece)
- --
The three most difficult things for a human being:
Returning love for hate;
Including the excluded;
Admitting that you are wrong.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

Indeed, those 3 difficult things can make a person cruel. And by the surroundings we are living in, it's extensive. We refuse to accept the fact that we are wrong.

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