Orissa update at Midnight 26th August 2008
- 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 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
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.
(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
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
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
(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.