Following the murder of a Hindu leader, Swami Lakshmanananda, there are reports of widespread attacks on Christians in Orissa State, North India. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reports:
1) NUN BURNT ALIVE: A nun was burnt to death on 25th, Monday, after an orphanage was torched in at Phutpali in Bargarh district in Orissa during a bandh called by Hindu nationalist parties.Twenty children, who were at the orphanage, managed to escape but a priest suffered serious burn injuries in the attack.
2) RASANANDA PRADHAN TORCHED ALIVE: Another person, Rasananda Pradhan, was burnt to death when his house was set ablaze at Rupa village in Kandhamal district.
3) INFLAMMATORY SPEECHES TARGET CHRISTIANS: During the bandh inflammatory speeches spreading hatred against the Christian workers and the community were given by the VHP leaders. To gain the mass support,the activists have also carried the body of Swamiji throughout the town.
4) CHURCHES BURNT ALL ACROSS ORISSA STATE: Churches were attacked in Khurda, Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Koraput, Boudh, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kandhamal districts as also in the state capital, police sources said, adding 40 houses were set ablaze in Phulbani town.
5) BUSES AND VEHICLES TORCHED: Mr. Mishra Digal was beaten up, while the motorcycles of Mr. R. K. Digal and Jitendra were burnt. Several buses at Gee Udaigiri in Baliguda were burnt.
6) PULBANI CHURCH RANSACKED: The Church at Phulbani,and several other churches at Phiringia were attacked and ransacked. Pastor D. Tatson’s house was vandalized and his property burnt.
7) KAKRIGUMA CHURCHES VANDALISED: Churches in Kakriguma have been targeted by the mob that reportedly damaged the Assembly Of God Church and the Philadelphia Church.
8) WORLD VISION STAFF FLED FOR SAFETY: World Vision India office ransacked and the Staff has also fled to jungle for protection.
9) CHRISTIANS TAKE SHELTER IN FOREST FOR PROTECTION: A police camp at Barakhama was also attacked by the Hindu fundamentalists. With several houses being burnt down and people being made homeless, many Christians,particularly from Nua Sahi, Munda Sahi and Suna Tonga have fled into forests for their lives.
10) NUN RAPED: A young Catholic Nun of the Cuttack Bhubaneswar diocese working Jan Vikas Kendra, the Social Service Centre at Nuagaon in Kandhamal was reportedly gang raped on 24th August 2008 by groups of Hindutva extremists before the building itself was destroyed.
11) SENIOR PRIEST AND NUN INJURED: Fr Thomas, director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Kanjimendi, less than a kilometer away from the Social Service Centre, and another Nun were injured when the centre was attacked. They were taken to the police station in a disheveled state as the armed mob bayed for their blood. The Pastoral centre was then set afire.
12) BALLIGUDA CHURCH BUILDINGS DESTROYED AGAIN: On 24th August 2008 evening lynch mobs at the block headquarters of Balliguda, in the very heart of Kandhamal district, which had seen much violence between 24th and 26th December 2007, attacked and destroyed a Presbytery, convent and hostel damaging the properties.
13) CHRISTIAN BOYS HEADS TONSURED: The mobs in Balliguda caught hold of two boys of the Catholic hostel and tonsured their heads.
14) PHULBANI CHURCH DAMAGED: On 25th august 2008 morning followers of the late Lakshmanananda Saraswati damaged the Catholic Church in Phulbani, the district headquarter town.
15) MOTHER TERESA BROTHERS ASHRAM ATTACKED: Mobs attacked the Mother Teresa Brothers’ residence and hospital in Srasanada, destroyed once before and rebuilt two months ago, and beat up the patients.
16) BHUBANESWAR BISHOP’S HOUSE ATTACKED: On the morning of 25th August 2008, violent mobs made several attempts to enter the compounds of Catholic Church and Archbishop’s house in the heart of the Capital of the State of Orissa. They could not enter because of the police presence. They threw stones at the guesthouse of Archbishop’s House, damaging windows.
17) DUBURI PARISH: Another group of fundamentalists entered presbytery in Duburi parish, managed by the SVDs and destroyed and damaged property. Two priests of the parish are missing.
18) Mr. Jamaj Pariccha, Director of Gramya Pragati, is attacked and his property damaged, vehicle looted and burnt.
19) A Baptist Church in Akamra Jila in Bhubaneswar is also damaged.
20) Christian institutions like St. Arnold’s School (Kalinga Bihar) and NISWASS report some damage.
21) BOUDH DISTRICT [Adjoining Kandhamal]: Fundamentalists enter the Catholic parish church and destroy property. People are fleeing to safer places. But nothing seems safe.
22) MUNIGUDA: Muniguda Catholic Fathers and Nuns’ residence have been damaged.
23) SAMBALPUR: HM Sister’s residence (Ainthapalli) has suffered damage.
24) PADANPUR: One priest is attacked and admitted to a hospital. Hostel boys and the in charge have moved away from the place.
25) MADHUPUR: Madhupur Catholic Church currently under attack.
26) SMALL CHURCHES: Attempted violence on small churches in various districts, including Padampur, Sambalpur near GM College, Talsera, Dangsoroda, Narayanipatara, Muniguda, Tummiibandh, Tangrapada, Phulbani, Balliguda, Kalingia, Chakapad, Srasanranda.
27) VILLAGE CHRISTIAN HOUSES ATTACKED: Houses attacked on forest hamlets of Balliguda, Kanjamandi Nuaguam (K.Nuaguam), Tiangia (G.Udayagiri), Padangiri, Tikabali.
28) KALAHANDI DISTRICT: Houses burnt even though the district is more than 300 kilometers from the place where Swami Lakshmanananda was killed.
29) PASTORS’ HOUSE BURNT: Pastor Sikandar Singh of the Pentecostal Mission beaten up and his house burnt in Bhawanipatna.
30) KHARIHAR: 3 Christian shops were looted and burnt. Pastor Alok Das and Pastor I M Senapati beaten up.
31) AAMPANI: Pastor David Diamond Pahar, Pastor Pravin Ship, Pastor Pradhan and Pastor Barik beaten up and chased away with their families.
32) NAKTIKANI: Mob surrounds village to attack Christians.
The government has sent forces, it is reported. A delegation of Christian leaders under the leadership of Archbishop Vincent Concessao, the President of National United Christian Forum of CBCI, NCCI and EFI, met the Home Minister Shri Shiv Raj Patil and submitted a memorandum. The Home Minister assured the delegation all necessary steps have been taken to maintain peace and harmony and protect the innocent. He also expressed his helplessness by stating that police protection cannot be given in all villages.
EFI request prayers at this time so that peace and harmony may prevail.
[This list is compiled with assistance from Archbishop's House, Bhubaneswar, John Dayal, Light Foundation and EFI News reporters and other sources]
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India