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Orissa update at Midnight 26th August 2008

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  • SOCM News Bureau
    ORISSA UPDATE AT MIDNIGHT 26TH AUGUST 2008 INCIDENTS CONFIRMED BY ORISSA CHURCH AUTHORITIES Dt. 26th August 2008. On 23rd evening immediately after the news of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27 8:27 PM

      Dt. 26th August 2008.

      On 23rd evening immediately after the news of murder of Swami
      Laxmanada Saraswati spread in the district, two sisters of Precious
      Blood congregation at Kothaguda who were on their way to Berhampur
      were stopped near G. Udayagiri, pulled out from the vehicle. Vehicle
      was then set on fire and the driven was severely beaten up. Almost
      at the same time a vehicle carrying HM sisters near Ainthapally in
      Sambalpur, a prayer chapel at Tentuliapadar in Sundargarh was also
      burned and destroyed. With these incidents, the stories of violence,
      abuse and attacks continue with several churches, church
      institutions, priests, Nuns, Christian people and their houses being
      attacked, abused, ransacked, and torched.

      As the impact of the news started getting visible across the state,
      government got into action by announcing prohibitory orders (144
      Section) in Kandhamal district. This was also a preparatory action
      by the state government ahead of the 12-hour bandh called by the VHP
      and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar on 25th august to protest
      the killing.

      On Sunday morning 24th August 2008, prayers in many churches were
      disrupted with very few participants attending the mass fearing

      From the same day attacks in Kandhamal district intensified. It was
      the turn of Janvikas office like many other offices which were burnt
      to ashes during the violence in December 2007. Jan Vikas is a social
      wing of the Archdiocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar and works towards
      empowerment of the most marginalised in the districts. A mob
      attacked, ransacked the office and set fire burning down three four
      wheelers, six motor cycles, all the important records and
      documentation of the organisation and office equipment. This
      incident took place at 5.30 in the evening.

      After this, the mob continued their assaults at Divya Jyoti Pastoral
      Centre by gutting, burning and looting the same at about 6 p. m. The
      same group entered the Baliguda presbytery, convent and hostel
      damaging the properties.

      In similar attacks, the Roman Catholic Church at Kanjamedi was
      attacked and vandalized at 6.30 p. m. The Diocesan Church at
      Kanjamedi was ransacked and other three Pentecostals churches were
      destroyed in the same way at 6.45 p. m. by the same group. In the
      late evening, about 12 Dalit Christian shops were burnt to ashes in

      On 25th August 2008 as the Bandh lead to many protests, rastha
      rokos, tyre burning etc., the following incidents of violence shook
      the whole state and the Christian community. At 7.00 a. m, Phulbani
      Church and presbytery were vandalized and ransacked. Srasanda MC
      Brother's residence was attacked and the patients who came there to
      get treatment were beaten up and the VHP activists continued to burn
      houses and household articles of Christian families in the area.
      Eight houses were completely destroyed in this incident.

      On the same day at 10.30 a. m houses of Christian families in
      Christiansahi in Balliguda were destroyed and ransacked. The details
      of damage and the numbers are not available as yet. In a similar
      incident houses in Nuasahi were set on fire destroying the whole
      street where Christian families lived. This incident took place at
      11.30 a. m.

      Two boys studying in the church run hostel were caught in Baliguda
      and their heads were tonsured.

      In the afternoon at about 1.00 P. M, Mr. Jamaj Parichha's house was
      attacked and his vehicles were set ablaze, doors were cut into
      pieces and he was beaten up by the mob. He sustained severe head
      injury and is hospitalised (place is not disclosed because of the
      security reasons). It is said that he is one of the primary targets
      of the hindutva forces in the area. His wife being a Hindu pleaded
      the mob to spare him and even showed that she practices Hinduism but
      they showed no mercy continued beating him up and said "he is a
      Christian and we will kill him".

      As this incident happened, houses of the staffs of Jan Vikas
      (Diocesan organisation under the Arch Diocese of Cuttack-
      Bhubaneswar) were also burnt. Five staffs are directly affected by
      this violence and all of them fled their villages and went into

      In a very similar way, at 2 p. m. the house of Mr. Puren Nayak
      resident of Bhudansahi was attacked and burnt into ashes. All his
      assets were removed from the house and were set on fire in a pile. .
      As the violence continued in the village, mob ransacked the
      Christian houses burnt all their belongings. The women (Hindu) in
      the community were identifying the houses to be burnt down as the
      mob followed their instructions. Women also supplied kerosene to
      encourage the mob.

      We will observe that in such incidents of burning and ransacking,
      the strategy used by the mob is very similar. The household articles
      and assets are brought outside the house and are set on fire. This
      is because under Indian Penal code section 436, the person/persons
      involved in burning the house are punishable with 7 years+ of
      rigorous imprisonment and this falls under the category of a non
      bailable offence. And when the assets/belonging are brought outside
      the house and burnt, it's a bailable offense and the punishment is
      limited to 6 months to one year of imprisonment. This offense falls
      under IPC 435.

      Fr. Challan, Director of Pastoral centre, Kanjamendi and Sr. Meena,
      administrator of the centre which was burnt and ransacked on 24th
      escaped from the centre to hide in Mr. Jashawanta Pradhan's house. On
      25th, mob having the information about this forcefully entered the
      house dragging both of them outside. They were beaten up badly and
      taken to the police fundi (smaller unit of police station) in the
      area. It is reported that they were tied up in the fundi and were
      threatened of being burnt alive. There is no update about their
      condition since then.

      Paul Pradhan who runs an NGO in the district and works for the
      rights of dalits and adivasis was also attacked in his house, office
      was destroyed completely.

      It is also reported that most of the Christian houses in Tikkabali
      block were attacked and set fire. Numbers are still unknown.

      One person called Vikram Nayak was cut into pieces at Tiagian under
      G Udaygiri police station. Other two sustained injuries while no
      medication facilities have been made available and it is reported
      that both two persons were died. In Tiangia village under the same
      police station limits, houses of Christian families were set on fire
      and people have fled to jungle. It was reported that the miscreants
      have been following them and were attacking.

      On 25th late night, Sankrakhol Parish church and presbytery were set
      fire and ransacked, the parish priest Fr. Alexandar Chandi left to
      the nearest forest and he was saved. It is reported that his most of
      the assets are set fire and church is completely destroyed.

      Fr. Bernard Digal who had gone to visit Fr. Alexandar Chandi was
      held up in Sankrakhol parish when the mob attacked the church. His
      Marshal Jeep was set fire. While narrating the incident Fr. Bernard
      said that when the mob enters the church premise they left to the
      forest and hid themselves. They were safe but the vehicle was set
      fire. He walked around 10. K. M to reach one of his relations house.
      As he was walking the attackers were use to see him but could not

      On 25th August late night the Convent of St. Joseph's at Sankrakhole
      was attacked and ransacked. Sisters also left to the forest and have
      saved their life.

      On 25th August 2008, Mr. Abenswar Digal's house is set fire, under
      Tikabali Police station.

      On 25th August 2008, at bout 11.00 p. m 23 houses of Gumagarh, under
      Bisipadsad Police station were attacked and ransacked.

      In Raikia, attacks are on as of 11.30 p. m. and the nature of damage
      is yet to be known. As per the first information report reveals that
      on 25th August late evening at Raikia 17 Christian houses were
      ransacked. Most of the house articles and assets were removed from
      the house and gather outside and set fire. As per the first hand
      report the victims identified were Mr. Bijay Parichha, Mr. R. K.
      Nayak, Mr. Joseph Nayak, Mr. Susant Dal Behera, Mr. Santosh Nayak,
      Mr. Santun Nayak, Mr. Harihar Das, Mr. Mosesh Nayak, Mr. Prakash
      Nayak, Mr. Raju Parichha and others.

      On 25th August 2008 late night The Ambasodar Vehicle of Mr. Sukant
      Nayak, Director Shahara (NGO), was set fire.

      On 25th August 2008 late night The Office of Karuna (NGO), under
      Raikia Police station were ransacked.

      On 25th afternoon the Pentecostal church at Budamaha, under Raikia
      Polic station was vandalized and ransacked.

      On 25th August 2008, Masadkia church was vandalized and ransacked.

      On 25th August 2008, two Pentecostal churches were vandalized and

      On 25th August 2008, Pisermaha Church, under Raikia Police station
      was vandalized and ransacked.

      On 25th August 2008, Baptist church and R. C Church at Mondakia
      under Raikia Police station was vandalized and ransacked.

      On 25th August 2008, Mdahupanga Church, under Raikia Police station
      was vandalized and ransacked.

      As the violence continues, most of the parish priests and sisters
      are still not reachable and their conditions are not known. The
      houses are being burnt in several places in Phulbani, Srasanada,
      Pobingia, Balliguda and Konjamendi.

      In Bhubaneswar, the impact of the Bandh was also felt severely by
      people with most of the office being closed, shops stayed closed as
      well. Transportation was totally disrupted and tyres were burnt in
      many places across the city. There were huge rallies by the
      supporters of VHP and Bajrangdal on the main roads and junctions.

      There were also some cases of attacks reported within the city and
      most of these attacks were on churches and church related
      institutions. From early morning of 25th onwards violent mobs made
      several attempts to enter the compound of Catholic Church and
      Archbishop's house in the city with a view to attack. Policemen
      deployed at the scene disbursed the mob and stopped them from
      entering the campus. Angry mob threw stones at the guest house of
      Archbishop's House, damaging some windows panes.

      Another group of fundamentalists entered presbytery in Duburi
      parish, managed by the SVDs and destroyed and damaged property. Two
      priests of the said parish Fr. Xavier and Fr. Simon are missing and
      their where about are yet to be found. Institutions like St.
      Arnold's School
      (Kalinga Bihar); NISWASS have suffered some damages while one
      Baptist Church in Akamra Jila in the city was also damaged.

      Situation seems to be very serious and worsening by every hour with
      violence being intensified. From across the districts, people are
      trying to flee to the safer places. But nothing seems be safe as of
      now. The violence can turn more intense as the people return after
      Swami's cremation.

      Other events that took place in Rayagada, Gajapati, Koraput and
      other south Orissa districts left Christians and Christian
      institutions throughout the state fearful. Father Obed Khura of
      Sunebeda received three threatening calls. While he approached the
      Sunebeda OIC, has was refused police protection and was sent back
      with assurance that the school he runs will not be attacked and was
      instructed to stay away from the school.

      In Muniguda (closer to Tumudibandha, Rayagada district), as the mass
      was coming to an end two jeep loads of youth from the town entered
      the compound and started shouting slogans. The police arrived on
      time and prevented the situation from escalating. Three policemen
      have been deployed at the gate which has been destroyed. The Church
      and Convent at Muniguda could not be saved. Around 80 inmates under
      the leadership of Fr. Pius Ekka and Sr. Marina Chacko have taken
      refuge in the forest. This happened inspite of the fact that Fr.
      Marshal Mihir Upasi was constantly in touch with the State Control
      Office of the Orissa Police and the SP of Rayagada. The mob first
      torched the police Jeep in Muniguda and then proceeded to the
      Convent and Church. On the previous day (24th of August) the mob
      threatened the Fathers after Sunday Mass. The mob sought out the
      houses holding Christian families and managed to destroy some of
      them. As a consequence allowing refuge to families has placed others
      at risk.

      As the mob moved on from Bhairaguda, 3 km away from Muniguda to seek
      shelter in a school while raining, the villagers from the hindu
      community fed them. This took place at 7.20 pm.

      Expecting an attack Fr. Manickthan, Bhawanipatna asked for
      protection, the SP expressed his inability to do anything due to the
      size of the mob. When Father suggested the SP on announcing curfew
      in the area and stop the mob's movement, the angry SP retorted
      saying that Fr. need not give orders to him. Later in the forenoon
      both the ADM and the SP visited the Church compound and inspected
      the law and order situation. The Malankara hostel was attacked in
      Bhawanipatna, not far from the Catholic Church, and many children
      have been badly hurt.

      Missionaries of Charity from Dharmagarh, unaware of the events from
      the previous night, were travelling to Bhawanipatna for Sunday Mass.
      Near the jail in Bhawanipatna town their ambulance was intercepted
      and pelted with stones. All the sisters sustained minor injuries
      from the stones and broken glass. The police arrived and sent them
      back in the same damaged vehicle to Dharmagarh. Sr. Suma and Sr.
      Nirmala have been informed of this and the district administration
      has assured them of protection.

      A group of police are guarding the Church in Jeypore after the
      threat of oncoming attacks. The police informed Fr. Bimol Nayak that
      some 200 people are preparing to attack the Church. Fr. Bimol Nayak
      and another Brother have taken shelter with nearby friends. Around
      24 policemen are guarding the church compound in Mohana after road
      blocks started on Sunday evening. Additionally, a group of 9 police
      men are safeguarding the Church in Goudogotho and the Cathedral.

      It is also reported that the Lutheran Church in Malkangiri, Padua,
      and Gunupur were destroyed. Fathers and Sisters along with the
      children in Gumuda have left the mission stations fearing attacks.
      On the 24th as the Congregation was coming out of the Church in
      Malkangiri, a group of angry youth harassed them and forced them to
      recite Bande Mataram.
      22 Christian Families of Shanti Nagar (Givindapur) at the foothill
      of Taptapani Hot Spring were also assaulted and forced to leave the

      In Boudh also, a group of protestors entered the parish and
      destroyed things and property. Communal tension was high also in
      other districts across the state with several incidents of attacks
      against the people as well as property. In Balasore, Balsore Social
      Service Society
      (official social wing of the Balasore diocese) was attacked three
      times during the day on 25th august. The mob shouting slogans broke
      all the window panes and destroyed a statue of Mother Mary which was
      installed in the BSSS office campus. Badrak also had few incidents
      of attacks but the details are not known.

      Hindu protestors attacked Jyoti Niketan of Baipariguda in Koraput
      district in the afternoon of 25th August. Father Joy Areeckal had to
      run into the forest and the hostel children and his social workers
      are subjected to insults and intimidation. The Mission has been
      destroyed along with all that it contained. A sad twist to the story
      is that the police along with the people seized wooden planks in
      spite of the fact that the carpenters who are building a new hostel
      building in the campus there claimed that it was bought by them.
      Consequently, a criminal case may be filed against Fr. Areeckal
      under the Forest Act.

      Mr. Routo Desinayak and Ms. Kalyani, who works for an agro-
      entrepreneurship program for SWAD at Boipariguda were also arrested
      under the forest protection act. Though the Police Officer and the
      Block Development Officer was not willing, the mob forced the police
      to tie Mr. Desinayak with a rope and drag him through the street up
      to the Forest Office. Miss Kalyani being a woman was spared of this
      ordeal. Fr. Thomas Chelan and a Sister (name could not be obtained)
      who were manhandled and humiliated by the mob have been kept in
      police custody in the pretext of giving security since the morning
      of August 25th.

      In Govindapally, close to Boipariguda, protestors entered the
      Convent and damaged the grotto of Our Lady and the Cross of the
      Church yard. In the same district Fathers and Sisters in Koraput,
      Jeypore and Semiliguda are in hiding.

      In Bargarh district, a mob of about 2000 people went around
      ransacking many church institutions and there were serious attacks
      on priests and nuns. In Padampur, Fr. Edward Sequira was attacked
      and was beaten up brutally. He survived with serious head injury and
      still unconscious. "His life is under critical still" said Fr.
      Alphonse Toppo, Vicar Gerneral of Sambalpur diocese. The institution
      which caters to children affected by Leprosy was attacked and burnt.
      While the institution burnt to ashes, along with it also burnt was
      the auxiliary nurse Rajani Majhi 20 year old, who took care of the
      children in the institute and was studying in Padampur Women's

      Sundargarh also saw many such incidents of church burning and
      attacks on church properties damages are yet to be ascertained.

      In Sambalpur district, Hand Maid Sister's residence of Ainthapalli
      has suffered damage while priests are given warnings of attacks in
      Madhupur, Badibahal area. Stone pelting and breaking of window panes
      of churches and related institutions was a common scene across the

      A Roman Catholic cemetery was damaged by an irate mob in Sambalpur
      town. The mob also pelted the stones at the Oriya Baptist Church
      near G. M College. Burning of motorbike belonging to a pastor
      Pravakar Munna, ransacking of a prayer house in Chiplima and attempt
      to attack a mission institution were also reported.

      In continuation to all this violence across the state, Dibyasingh
      Pariccha, PRO and Secretary, Justice and Peace Commission (Arch
      diocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar) has condemned the killing of Swami
      Laxmananda Saraswati and appealed for a CBI enquiry into the
      incident. He requested that culprits responsible for the incident be
      punished instead of attacking the whole Christian community.

      He appealed to the government to deploy adequate forces to safeguard
      life and property of Christian people.

      On 26th August 2008, at bout 11.30 a. m the mob is attacking at
      Badimunda Village, under Tikabali police station in Kandhamal
      District. It is repoted Roman Catholic Church and 5 individual
      houses were set fire.

      It is reported that people are suffering from with out food, cloth
      and shelter. Last night, there was heavy rain and people were in the
      forest with the wet cloth. However, the condition of the children
      and women were indescribable. School children are deprived of their

      Kindly pray for us so that peace and harmony may return soon. Thank
      you very much for your solidarity.

      Courtesy:John Dayal
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