(December 27, 2007). The Washington-DC based human rights group,
has learned that Hindu extremists killed at least one Christian and attacked
over 30 Christian institutions on the eve and day of
in the Baliguda sub-division of the Kandhamal district in the eastern state of
Orissa, where an indefinite curfew has been imposed.
Baliguda has been tense
since December 24 when a mob allegedly led by the
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) attacked Christians and vandalized their
shops to protest Christmas Eve celebrations by
the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Brahmani
Rabi Sudhasundar, the priest
of the church, said that there were more than 200 Catholic families in Bamunigam
area where Brahmani village is situated, and that the church had received
permission from authorities to hold a Christmas program.
According to Sudhasundar, a
local Hindu leader, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, did not want Christians to
openly celebrate Christmas.
“The leader instigated local
residents and led a mob of more than 100 people carrying sticks and guns to
attack the Christians indiscriminately,”
he told ICC.
The priest added that later,
when Saraswati was returning to launch more attacks, Christians tried to stop
him, and that led to a clash between the two groups.
“Their entire attention is
on driving away Christians from the region,”
said Dr. John Dayal, a Christian leader and member of the National Integration
Council of the Government of India.
According to John Varghese,
regional coordinator of the Philadelphia
Fellowship Churches in India (PFCI), several
PFCI churches have been destroyed in the villages of the Baliguda sub-division.
At least three Baptist
churches were burnt in the villages of Kudupakia, Gosukia and Depakheta.
Philadelphia churches belonging to PFCI were set ablaze in the villages of
Sirthiguda, Burangia and Budrumaha. In addition, several churches belonging to
the Catholic and the Church of North India
denominations were set on fire in the same sub-division.
An office of the World
Vision of India in the area has also reportedly
The attacks took place
despite 20 platoons of police deployed to ease existing tensions.
Local Christians feel that
the electronic media, mainly in the vernacular language, fuelled the fire by
featuring biased reports.
Unconfirmed reports say
Catholic boys, Avinash Nayak, 12, and Silu Senapati, 13, received bullet
injuries, said Sudhasundar, adding that while both are believed to be admitted
to a hospital, Senapati’s condition is said to be critical.
The name of the Christian
who has reportedly been killed could not be ascertained.
Christians have urged Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and protect Christians from further attack.
In a memorandum submitted to
the prime minister on December 26, Dr. John Dayal said at least 14 churches,
four convents, three houses of priests, and eight hostels had been fully or
partially destroyed, besides injuries sustained by numerous Christians in
Kandhamal district’s Baliguda sub-division.
PS. This was the worst
outbreak of religious violence in the state of Orissa where Australian
missionary, Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death in their station
wagon by religious extremists, eight years ago.
are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC
(International Christian Concern) and include our web address
www.persecution.org. Contact Jeremy Sewall, Policy Analyst,
based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians
worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted
pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is
an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For
additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at