Orissa : A Christrmas eve turned black .13 churches attacked
- All India Christian Council
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Immediate ReleaseHindutva Fundamentalist Attacks on Christians in Orissa turns Christmas Eve black
A VHP state-wide bandh provoked attacks on 13 churches and 3 shotNew Delhi, December 26, 2007
At the same time Hindutva politician Narendra Modi took his third oath as Chief Minister for the state of Gujarat in western India,Hindu fundamentalists attacked 13 churches and left 3 people shot in the eastern state of Orissa on Christmas Eve. One incident involved 300 Vishva Hindu Parishad (Hindu World Council) activists attacking Christians gathered in Bramunigam of Phulbani, Orissa on December 24, 2007.Clashes between the assailants and Christians erupted when Swami Lakhananda Sarswati, the local VHP leader, and his body guards visited the spot where tent for Christmas Eve was destroyed earlier by his followers. News spread across the state and a one-day state- wide bandh (strike) was called by the VHP. Sources told the All India Christian Council that, in Bramunigamblock, three people were shot to death including two Christians, 10 shops belonging to Christian community were torched and 3 people were shot seriously injured and latter shifted to Berhampur medical. Two are battling for life. On Christmas Eve, attacks in Orissa included:-- A World Vision of India office was burned, destroying officedocuments along with a jeep and seven motorcycles in Daringabadi block of Phulbani district.
-- In Balliguda Block of Phulbani district, five churches weredamaged including a Baptist church, Catholic church, Pentecostalchurch, and a Catholic sisters' convent. Church furniture, the sound systems, and the tents were burnt. An English medium school was attacked and the computer training center was vandalised. A Christmas celebration was stopped during the worship service of Baptist church. Police stood by while fanatics destroyed the church property, said Rev. Abhiram.
-- In Nuagam Block of same district, a church in Kdupakia village,another church in Sirtiguda,Gosukia and Jangungia viallges were assaulted and furniture and church properties were destroyed such as a cross which was broken down.
-- In Chakapad Block, of Phulbani district, a church was torched while Christians were having a Christmas feast. The food was destroyed and several were almost killed.
-- In Phringia Block, of Phulbani district, a Catholic church was destroyed by a bomb planted by fundamentalist. Pastor Junas Digal was tonsured and brought to temple and forced him to bow down to the deity)The cabinet Minister Padmanabh Beheras home was also reported of attacked.
-- In Raikia of Phulbani district, shops belonging to Christians were reportedly destroyed. The Hindutva fanatics were marching in a procession and holding weapons. The Christians were ordered to stay inside their homes.
-- In Phulbani Headquarters, a Baptist church and a Catholic church were not allowed to conduct Christmas celebrations. An orphanage run by a Catholic priest was attacked and three vehicles were torched.
-- Carmel Convent School in Phulbani town was attacked and the school buses and vehicles were broken and torched.A delegation of Christian leaders from Phulbani met the District Collector to insist on safety measures for the Christian minority.It was reported that complaints against the Hindutva forces were rejected by police duty officers. Christians in Orissa have faced increasing threats and religious persecution from Hindutva fanatics since the murder of Graham Staines and his two minor sons who were burnt alive in 1999.The Hindutva government officials of Orissa have misused the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1968 to harass Christians in the state. The All India Christian Council (www.aiccindia.org), birthed in 1998 exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.
Mr. Madhu Chandra
Regional Secretary (9868184939)