Sunday, August 31, 2008

First Things First: Let the Killings Stop

Christians Demand Immediate End to Violence

The Right to Life: First Among Human Rights

Even as Orissa continues to burn and more and more innocent victims fall prey to acts of diabolic insanity, Indian officials and media seem more preoccupied with questions like 'Who Killed the Swami', 'Is Conversions pitting Hindus Vs. Christians', etc., rather than with bringing the ground situation under control.

This then was the primary and fundamental demand placed by the Christian delegation which met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The killings should stop with immediate effect.

Fr. Babu Joseph SVD, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) on Reuters:

Saved from the Fires: Fr. Edward Sequeira

Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD Rescued from Burning Narrates the Trauma

Picture of Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD

Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD reached Hyderabad early on August 30th morning after an 8 hours gruelling journey by road from Sambalpur hospital where he was undergoing treatment after he was rescued from the burning inferno that took the life of 19 year Hindu girl Rajni Majhi. His lungs have been badly affected due to inhaling for more than two hours smoke polluted air. He has been taken to Mumbai where he will be close to his family and receive the urgent medical care he needs.

He recounts his traumatic story:

"It all began around 13.00 hrs" he recalled. "I was having lunch at my single room presbytery that doubles as office, bedroom and store room. The doors were closed. I heard some one calling out, 'Father, Father.' Thinking that some one was there with some patients needing to be taken to hospital I opened the door and came out.

There was a crowd of about 20 people crowding before my room. They suddenly pulled out from behind their backs, iron rods, lathies, and wooden pieces. They started thrashing me. They wanted to me to shout 'Yesu Christu Murdabad' (Death to Jesus Christ) 'Bajrang Bali Ki Jai' (Long Live Bajrang Bali).

They continued thrashing me and then pushed me back into the room, poured diesel on the floor, some fell on by clothes and set the place on fire and bolted the room from outside.

I slipped on the diesel soaked floor, some how managed to reach the bath room where providentially there were two buckets of water - we do not have running water - and poured it all across the room. Without making much noise I bolted from inside all the doors and windows under cover of billowing smoke."

Dr. Sr. Marykutty of Handmaids of Mary who nursed him all through this stay at the hospital and then accompanied him filled in with the remaining details.
"The previous evening Fr. Edward was in a town around 300 kilometers away and when he heard of the killing of the Swamy he decided to rush back to the hostel as the kids were alone in the care of Rajani.

She had been given in adoption by her Hindu biological parents. As soon as the adopted parents got children of their own Rajani's life changed. Her natural parents refused to receive her back when the adopted parents started neglecting her and pulled her out of school for working in the house.

The sisters found her a place at father's hostel so that she could continue her studies. She had completed her plus two and had been sort of a boarding mistress to the children of leprosy patients for whom the hostel was being run.

People had advised Fr. Edward not to return to the hostel. But he knew his children needed him. And that is what he decided to do - to return to the hostel.

After locking up Fr Edward in his room the marauding crowd pushed out all the children from where they were hiding in a shed nearby. When Rajini came out running, she was tied up and thrown back in the fire!

20 Year Old Rajni Majhi Burnt to Death by the Mob
[See Separate Story:
How 20 Year Old Rajni Was Burnt to Death]

Fr. Edward told me that he sees the hand of God in all this. "He has plans for me, He kept me alive."

Pregnant Lady Cut to Pieces in Orissa

7 Month's Pregnant, Kamalini Naik Cut into Pieces for Her Faith

As narrated by an independent writer:
Mrs. Kamalini Naik's husband was asked to become a Hindu for which the fanatics threatened to kill his mother. Seeing his mother under their grip Mr. Naik denounced his faith.

Then they called his wife Kamalini Naik who was 7 months pregnant. She strongly stood for her faith in Christ and immediately the fanatics cut her into pieces and her one and half year son in front of her husband and other Christians.

Orissa Violence: Real Death Toll?

Death Toll Much Higher Than Official Figure

7 days after the terrible violence in Orissa began, officials are presenting a death toll between 14 and 20.

Given the nature of the violence, and the scale of destruction, one suspects this figure to be far higher.

Basing himself on "reliable sources", a Christian activist now makes a shocking claim that there are "at least 100 dead".

Asianews reports:
Meanwhile, the number of victims of the violence continues to increase: "We have received authentic information that the death toll is 100", says Dr Sajan George, national president of the GCIC, "and more butchered bodies and burnt corpes are being found".
In its statement the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) too puts the figure much above the official figure claiming "that 50 people, mostly Christians, were killed in the recent Orissa violence.

Cardinal Toppo on the Orissa Anti Christian Violence

Cardinal Toppo Reacts to Anti Christian Violence in India

(29 Aug 08 - RV) Thousands of Christian-run schools and colleges across India were closed Friday to protest deadly Hindu mob attacks on churches and homes this week in the eastern part of the country. The Cardinal Archbishop of Ranchi, India, Telesphore Toppo spoke with us about the situation...

Download and Listen: Christian Institutions Close for a Day in Protest

Agartala Christians Hold Protest Rally

Christians in the North East Holy Rally to Protest Orissa Violence

Bishop Lumen and other Pastors of Denominations lead the rally

Guwahati, Aug. 30. Agartala, 29 Aug 2008: The Christian community of Agartala held a rally in the capital town to protest against the repeated attacks on Christians in the state of Orissa. The rally which started from RMS Choumunhi in the heart of the town and proceeded to the Gandhi statue near Raj Bhawan, was attended by a large group of Christians belonging to the various churches and denominations in the state.

The rally, organized by the United Christian Forum of Agartala, was held in a peaceful manner, with the participants wearing black badges and walking in silence.

Those who spoke at the rally included Bishop Lumen Monteiro CSC, DD, Pastor Kamal Chakarbarty and Pastor Dakhina Reang. They reiterated that the intention behind the rally was to register protest against the ongoing violence against Christians in Orissa and also to show solidarity with the suffering brethren there. The Christian leaders also urged the government of Orissa to restore normalcy and peace among all sections of people in Orissa. A memorandum to this effect was also submitted to the Governor by the Christian leaders.

Many school students were also found participating in the rally as all the Christians schools in the state were closed as yet another mark of protest against the Orissa violence.

Joseph Pulinthanath sdb
Spokesperson, Diocese of Agartala

Picture and Story Courtesy: Bosco Information Service

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"They Ordered Me to Have Sex with the Nun": Fr. Chellen

Fr. Thomas Chellen Describes the Orissa Mob Ordeal

Picture of Fr. Thomas Chellen

Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. Currently undergoing treatment at a Catholic hospital in Orissa's capital Bhubaneswar, Fr. Chellen had this horrifying experience to share with Catholic News Service:
"They had poured kerosene on my head, and one held a matchbox in his hands to light the fire. But thanks to divine providence, in the end, they did not do that. Otherwise, I would not have been there to tell this horror," the 55-year-old priest, director of the pastoral center at Konjamendi in the Indian state of Orissa, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from his hospital bed Aug. 28.

When a Hindu mob of 500 people broke into the pastoral center around noon Aug. 24, Father Chellen said he fled through the backyard with another priest and a nun.

"It was heartbreaking for us to watch from a distance the entire complex go up in smoke," said Father Chellen, who had supervised the construction of the center that opened in 2001 and could accommodate 200 people.

"They vandalized everything and set it on fire. It has been reduced to ashes," he added.

As the three watched from a distance, some other priests told them to flee.

"We fled to the jungles and came in the night to take shelter in the house of a Hindu friend and spent the night there," Father Chellen said, adding that the second priest left them to join other priests.

The following morning, he said, the Hindu family moved the priest and nun to an adjacent vacant house and locked it to give the impression that no one was inside.

However, the Hindu mobs overheard the priest speaking on his cell phone, broke into the room and dragged him and the nun outside.

"They began our crucifixion parade," said Father Chellen. The gang of about 50 armed Hindus "beat us up and led us like culprits along the road" to the burned pastoral center.

"There they tore my shirt and started pulling off the clothes of the nun. When I protested, they beat me hard with iron rods. Later, they took the sister inside (and) raped her while they went on kicking and teasing me, forcing (me) to say vulgar words," said the priest who has cuts, bruises and swollen tissue all over his body and stitches on his face.

"Later both of us, half-naked, were taken to the street, and they ordered me to have sex with the nun in public, saying nuns and priests do it. As I refused, they went on beating me and dragged us to the nearby government office. Sadly, a dozen policemen were watching all this," he said.

Angry at his plea to the police for help, the mob beat the bleeding priest again.

Later, a government official and members of the mob took the priest and the nun to the police station, where Father Chellen said he was kicked in the face.

"The four-hour ordeal ended when a senior police officer arrived in the evening," said Father Chellen.

The priest said one of the most hurtful things about the incident was that some local Hindus whom he knew were watching the events and ignored his requests for help.
Asianews has a follow up story: Orissa: after his calvary Father Thomas willing to go back to serve those who hurt him

Christian Groups Did Not Kill the Swami: Govt Sources

"Christian Groups Did Not Kill VHP Leader Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati"

6 days after the Orissa carnage began, Govt sources tell NDTV, Christian groups not responsible:
"Government sources tell NDTV that their assessment is that Christian groups did not kill VHP leader Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati.

In an Orissa daily, Maoist leader Azad has claimed responsibility for killing of the VHP leader."
AICC laments:
"The media largely ignored these facts while reporting the allegations of Sangh Parivar leaders for five days. And Orissa burned."

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Great "Conversions" Lie

Just How Many 'Forced' Conversions Are Taking Place?

An AICC Leader Finds Out

"Forced conversion" remains the number one unproven allegation Hindu fundamentalists level against Christians in India. Using it as a Goebbelsian propaganda (repeat a lie loud enough and often enough, it will soon be believed as truth), anti-conversion laws have been enacted, under the guise of 'freedom of religion' acts (enforced in Orissa and some other States).

Interestingly, the "Freedom of Religion Act" passed in the state of Himachal Pradesh (and proposed in some other States too), without prescribing a time limit for the conduct of such an enquiry or defining its modalities, prescribes that a person intending to convert from one religion to another must give a notice of at least thirty days to the District Magistrate who then "shall get the matter enquired into by such agency as he may deem fit". However no such notice is required of a person reverts back to his "original religion".

Thanks to the Right to Information Act 2005, Samson Christian, a leader of the All India Christian Council (AICC), unearthed just how many "forced" conversions were taking place that called for such stringent anti-conversion laws. Compass Direct News has this story:
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat state has disclosed that there were only three complaints of alleged "forcible" conversions in the state in the last 10 years, and only two of those concerned Christian conversions.

The state Home Department made the embarrassing disclosure after Samson Christian, a leader of the All India Christian Council, sought the information under the Right to Information Act of 2005. The Act makes it mandatory for government authorities to furnish information concerning public matters sought by any citizen.

"The Home Department said two of the three complaints were concerning Christian conversions," Christian told Compass. "One was filed in 2007, and the other in 1997."

The BJP government's reluctant admission coincided with the notification of the rules under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 on July 10. The rules were framed on April 1, and their notification was the last formality in the implementation of the law.

60,000 Christians Take Refuge in Forests

Orissa Violence Forces 60,000 Christians to Take Refuge in Forests

UCA News has this story:
The violence has forced some 60,000 Christians to take refuge in forests, it said. Despite government assurances of protection, it added, the fundamentalists move about with weapons threatening Christians.


Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, another delegation member, told UCA News on Aug. 28: "Christians hiding in the forest don't have anything to eat. Yesterday evening one priest called me and said they were hiding in the jungle for the past three days. The attackers are sparing no one."

The archbishop added: "This is a collapse of the total police force. Sometimes they (policemen) don't even have a lathi (baton) to defend themselves. The state administration is not doing anything to restore peace."

Orissa Violence: 20,275 Institutions Close for a Day

Catholic Schools Closed As Christians Nationwide Demand Peace In Orissa

August 29, 2008

NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- Catholic schools across India remained closed on Aug. 29 as Religious, dioceses and other groups demanded and prayed for peace in Orissa state, where anti-Christian violence continues.

More than 700 Religious, clergy, lay Catholics and other Christians, and people of other religions have taken part so far in an Aug. 27-29 candlelight vigil at the Jesuits' St. Xavier's College in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal state, 1,460 kilometers southeast of New Delhi.

West Bengal is just north of Orissa, where anti-Christian violence started Aug. 25, following the deaths of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and five of his associates in Kandhamal district Aug. 23.

Maoists reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings, but some Hindu groups have alleged Christians masterminded the killing, a charge all Christian Churches and denominations have denied.

Father George Pattery, who heads the Jesuit's Calcutta province and serves as president of the West Bengal region of Catholic Religious of India, says he organized the vigil to "express their solidarity" with suffering Christians. The group wanted to make this a prayer of protest against violence and injustice, and for people who are being misled by others, he explained.

Armed mobs of radical Hindus have burned down at least 50 churches, hundreds of Christian homes and convents in the four days of violence, Church officials say in statements. They also say hundreds of Christians have fled their homes for forest cover to save their life.

In Indore, Madhya Pradesh state, central India, about 2,000 people from different religions joined a peace march on Aug. 28. The silent rally started from the main city's square and proceeded to the city administration's head office. The leaders, including Hindus, submitted a memorandum to one of the city's top officials. The memorandum asked federal government leaders, to whom it was addressed, to ensure the safety of Christians in Orissa and the restoration of peace in the state.

During the rally, Bharat Chhaparwal, former vice chancellor of Indore University, told UCA News the "a brutal killing of innocent people is a barbaric act, and it is a matter of shame for all Indians." He asked the government to arrest the murderers immediately.

Indore diocese's spokesperson, Father Hans Puthiakulangara, said all Catholic educational institutions in the state would stay closed.

The Indian Catholic Church's 160 Catholic dioceses and some 240 Religious congregations have closed their 20,275 educational institutions, which serve more than 10 million students, more than 80 percent of whom are not Christians.

Sister M. Joseline, principal of St. Mary's School in eastern New Delhi, in a letter circulated to students' parents, said they are closing the school to make the public aware of the dangers of sectarian violence.

"What is at stake is not only the freedom of a minority community, but India's secular democracy and its commitment to human rights and constitutional guarantees" of religious freedom, she wrote. "The general public must wake up to the dangers of the threats that are manifested in the violence in Orissa."

Other Catholic schools reportedly circulated similar notes.

Christian groups in Mangalore, a coastal Catholic stronghold 2,290 kilometers southwest of New Delhi, jointly sent a memorandum to the Orissa government on Aug. 26 asking it to protect minority Christians.

The memorandum, which local Catholic Church leaders signed, demanded deployment of the army to bring normalcy in Orissa. The groups also asked for a high-level probe into the murder of the Hindu leader.

Source: UCANews

Bombs Used in Orissa Anti-Christian Violence

Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre Destroyed with Bombs

Petrol and matchsticks were not the only weapons used in razing Christian churches and institutions. Obviously a huge building like the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre which escaped destruction in last December's violence could not easily be brought down with fire. How then was it destroyed? Evidences from more than one source concur here. Bombs were used in the destruction activity.

Fr. Augustine Kanjamala writes:
"A meeting of Hindu leaders took place on the following day in Rourkela, also known as Steel City, where a decision for an immediate and violent retaliation was taken. The total success of the dawn to dusk strike in Orissa on 25 August is clear evidence of the shocking reaction. The simultaneous unleashing of violent attacks on 35 Christian centres in Orissa on the evening of 25 August further confirms that the plan was organized.

All bomb attacks were directed at Christians and their institutions. The rampaging mob, seeking revenge for the Guru’s murder, destroyed the pastoral centre of the archdiocese of Bhuvaneshwar with a bomb. A priest and a nun working there were beaten up, stripped and paraded naked in order to humiliate them. Four other priests were severely beaten—one suffered severe burns and is now in critical conditions in Burla Medical College, in the district of Sambalpur"
Another SVD Priest reporting from Orissa writes:
The Pastoral Centre, at Konjamendi, a huge building of the Archdiocese of Bhubaneswar is totally demolished by blasting it with bombs.
Later Archbishop Raphael Cheenath who learnt of the destruction from Fr. Thomas, the Pastoral Centre's director, said:
"Father Thomas, director of our pastoral centre, is hiding in the forest," the archbishop said. "From there, tears in his eyes and sorrow in his heart, he saw it go up in smoke. Just before the attack he phoned me and I told him: 'Pray and be vigilant.' But when he saw mobs of people coming towards the centre he had to flee for his life. The pastoral centre had cost more than 15 million rupees."

FIACONA Prayer Vigil at the United Nations on 29th August

The Federation of Indian American Christian Organization of North America
110 Maryland Ave, NE, Suite# 306, Washington, DC, 20002 USA
Phone: 202-547-6228, Email:

Press Release

Prayer Vigil in front of United Nations on 29th August 2008

(30 Martyred, 10000 fled to the jungles, 400 plus injured and 100's village churches razed down and burnt in last 72 hours)

In the wake of unabated violence against Christians in Orissa, FIACONA has called in solidarity with the suffering Christians a day of prayer on 29th August.
The Catholic Church is closing all its institutions in India on 29th to protest the burning alive of Christians and destruction of Christian institutions. In expression of our solidarity and to support our grieving community in India, FIACONA will observe prayer vigil in front of the United Nations from 12pm to 3pm. At the end of vigil a memorandum will be handed over to the Secretary General of the United Nations. There are innumerable incidents where Christians are assaulted, humiliated, paraded half-naked, beaten up, their limbs mutilated, tortured, burnt alive, nuns gang raped and even murdered. There are about 123 incidents in Orissa in last 72 hours alone and 143 incidents of violence against peace-loving Christians in the state of Karnataka. All the Christians of India and the world are in extreme shock and profound grief, over these brutal and heartless events happening against Christians in Orissa. Being a forever peace-loving and religious tolerant community, Christians are remaining mute spectators to these intensely inhuman and barbaric acts. But the international community is taking note and thus a lot of negative publicity is also being generated.

Christians of India and all over the world have full faith in dynamic, charismatic, and justice driven leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh. We are confident that as he has made India into one of the leading economies, he will also make it into one of the leading religious tolerant countries of the world. We look forward to him for guidance and leadership in this matter. As all these incidents happened, FIACONA is deeply concerned along with the entire Christian community of India. We request that necessary action may be immediately initiated to stop the inhuman atrocities being committed against Christians in Orissa and rest of the country.

For the favor of publication
Rev. Bernard Malik

Vijayawada Christians Protest Orissa Violence, Submit Memorandum

In Solidarity with the Orissa Christians...

Sr. Benigna Menezes, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India

Christians took to the streets in protest against the spiralling violence, demanding protection for Christians in Orissa after closing down all the Church run institutions in Vijayawada, Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh on Friday, August 29, 2008

Over 3000 people marched with banners in their hands, shouting slogans and demanding justice to the Christians in the country as they submitted a memorandum to the sub-collector of the Krishna District who resides in Vijayawada city in the wake of the Orissa violence.

"We condemn in unequivocal terms the incidents of burning people alive and vandalizing the property of Christian community in Orissa by Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists, and armed attacks on Churches in Orissa," Vicar General Monsignor Chinnappa said in his speech on the PWD grounds where the rally assembled after a two hour walk in the main streets of the city.

The priest also stated that these attacks are against the human rights and human freedom and compromises the climate of mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence of the citizens.

A delegation of Christian leaders lead by the local Bishop Prakash Mallavarapu had submitted a memorandum a few days ago to the collector demanding CBI inquiry into the killings of Christians.

The Bishop had also issued an appeal to all the Parishes and Catholic organisms to join the Friday rally in protest of the violence meted to the local Christian community in Orissa.

Fr. John, SJ director of the Kaladarshini unit of the Andhra Loyola College read out the memorandum which listed the atrocities in Orissa against Christians and demanded that immediate efforts be made to rehabilitate the victims of vandalism and that the families of the victims may be compensated adequately.

Sources from Kandhamal district said hundreds of Christians along with their families have fled to the nearby forests to save their lives in the rainy climate and are without shelter, food and clothing

The memorandum sought CBI inquiry in the entire incidents and punishments to the culprits who masterminded the mayhem and terrorized the tribals and poor of the area.

The priest also sought immediate restoration of peace and harmony and law enforcement in the life of the districts.

Hundreds of nuns and priests, teachers and professionals along with the city youth from various colleges and institutions carrying slogans seeking justice, and religious freedom marched out from the two Cathedrals of the city of Vijayawada.

The Parishioners from the 12 city Parishes too joined the march quitting the jobs on this black Friday supporting the cause of the Church and demanding justice to the Christian minority.

"We should have more rallies like this so that we can make our presence felt in this city" said Mr. Prasad, a Catholic who works as a driver.

The peace loving and law abiding Christian citizens are not recognized in this country in–spite of their great contribution to health, education, and social service, lamented Sr. Rosy, MSI a city school counselor.

What crime have we committed to receive so much neglect and persecution? Why there is so much hatred?, asked another speaker of the rally.

CSI Bishop of the Protestant Church and other heads and members of the Christian denominations too closed their institutions and joined the rally and voiced their concerns on the stage.

Fr. Emmanuel,SSP, the President of the Conference of the Religious of the diocese who helped to organiz the rally along with Ecclesiastical diocesan authorities said that he was impressed about the number who participated in the march.

"This is going to make an impression which will last for a long time in the memory of the city", he said.

"A collection would be made towards the victims of the Orissa violence soon after the rally and the money would be sent through the CRI to the affected", said Fr. Emmanuel to the Press persons.

He had called an emergency meeting of the heads of the Catholic institutions, CRI officials and other Church leaders to discuss the CBCI call of solidarity to the Christians in Orissa on August 28.

Sr. Theresa, FMM Principal of Maris Stella College was too willing to co-operate and show solidarity to the cause though it cost the institution heavy losses to close down the college for a day, she stated.

Fr. Emmanuel, SJ participated in the preliminary meeting called by the local CRI had readily agreed to the proposal to down the shutters on the college and offered all possible support and assistance in making the rally a success.

"There were many reports of Christians being pulled from their homes and killed or beaten, with many homes of Christians torched. It makes me feel very much worried", said a CSI Pastor who participated in the rally on Friday.

CBCI Submits Memorandum to Prime Minister

Memorandum Submitted To Hon'ble Prime Minister By The CBCI Delegation

NEW DELHI, AUG. 28, 2008, 18.00 Hrs: CBCI Delegation met Hon’ble Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today at 6.30 pm at New Delhi. The Delegation briefed him with the situation in Kandhamal district of Orissa and requested his for immediate intervention. Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, Most Rev. Raphael Cheenath, Catholic Archdiocese Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswhar, Rev. Thomas D’Aquino Sequeira, Dy. Secretary General, CBCI, Rev. Dr. Babu Joseph, SVD, Spokesperson, CBCI, Bishop Samson Dass, Bishop of Cuttack- CNI, Bishop Sunil Kumar Singh, Bishop of Church of North India, Ms. Sushma Ramaswami, Vice-President, NCCI Submitted the Memorandum to Hon'ble Pime Minister.

Following is the full text of the Memorandum submitted to Hon’ble Prime Minister by the CBCI Delegation :-


Dr. Manmohan Singh
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
7, Race Course Road
New Delhi-110001 August 28, 2008

Subject: Earnest request for your immediate intervention in Kandhamal District of Orissa which is again witnessing violence against the Christian community.

Hon'ble Prime Minister Ji,

We are sad to note that Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati and five others were murdered on Saturday, August 23, 2008 allegedly by a Maoist group in Kandhamal Dist of Orissa. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and the Church leaders in Orissa and other parts of the country have condemned the killing of Swami Lakshmananda Sarswati and his associates in the Ashram. We have also appealed for peace and harmony in the State.

However, we are extremely sorry to find that some organizations have pointed finger at the Christian community in Orissa for the alleged murder of the Swami and his associates. Consequently, there have been unprovoked attacks on Christians and their institutions in Kandhamal and surrounding areas.

We are pained and shocked at the merciless killings and unabated violence against the Christians all over the State of Orissa. While the Christian leaders have condemned the heinous crime perpetrated on Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his associates in the Ashram at Kandhamal District, Orissa, the killings of and atrocities against Christians are the evil designs of the fanatic fundamentalists. They are still continuing the violence and the State Government has failed to protect the Christians and other innocent people.

The Christians in the State are living in continual tension and great fear. The law and order machinery is not at their rescue and they are living in pathetic conditions for the last four days. The houses, churches and prayer halls have to be rebuilt and a sense of security has to be restored in the hearts of Christians and other affected people. This is the greatest disaster in the history of a Christian community in India and more so in Orissa.


Even though the Government has been assuring us all protection the fundamentalists are moving about with lethal weapons threatening the Christians.
The fundamentalists go on their destructive activities even in the presence of the police men. The police says that they are unable to face such unruly mob. The destruction goes on unabated.

The Christians who are already attacked and those who are in great panic of being attacked, feel with sufficient reason that they are left to the mercy of the fundamentalists.

We do not see anywhere sufficient number of policemen and the senior police officers for maintenance of law and order have expressed their inability to control the situation in absence of adequate force.

The fundamentalists are forcing the Christians to leave their homes and to take refuge in the forests and even to leave the State. As a consequence there are sixty thousand refugees in the State.

The aim of the fundamentalist groups is to drive the Christians away from the region as it is evident from the slogan they are shouting at Christians and the anti-inflammatory statements made by them.

Most of the priests, pastors and religious men and women in Kandhamal are hiding in the forest to save their lives. In fact, the fundamentalists are in search of their hide-outs.

We are in receipt of information from various Churches and institutions that the miscreants are still active and the destruction of property is still going on rampant and Christians are under fierce attack. On the other hand, the innocent Christians are frightened and Christian officials are victimized as an outcome of the constant attacks.

In view of the facts stated above we demand the following:

1. That a CBI enquiry be ordered for proper and impartial investigation for justice.

2. That Central Para-Military Forces/ Army be deployed in adequate strength at all the affected and sensitive places to prevent any further recurrences as the local police has not been able to control the situation.

3. That impartial and proper assessment of the property damage caused to various Churches, Christian institutions, individuals and other establishments be made and given adequate compensation as early as possible in view of proper rehabilitation.

4. That adequate compensation be given to the families of the deceased and inured persons.

5. That the culprits responsible for creating communal disharmony and damage caused to the people and properties should be severely dealt with and those Government officials found wanting or negligent in their duties be taken to task.

6. That a law be enacted after the manner of SC Atrocities (Prevention) Act, in order to restrain such heinous communal crimes which have become so common in India.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Most Rev. Vincent Concessao
Archbishop of Delhi

Most Rev. Raphael Cheenath
Catholic Archdiocese Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswhar

Rev. Thomas D’Aquino Sequeira
Dy. Secretary General, CBCI

Rev. Dr. Babu Joseph, SVD
Spokesperson, CBCI

Bishop Samson Dass
Bishop of Cuttack- CNI

Bishop Sunil Kumar Singh
Bishop of Church of North India

Ms. Sushma Ramaswami
Vice-President, NCCI

Orissa Violence: Mangalore Submits Memorandum

Mangalore Church Submits Memorandum Against Orissa Violence

A South Indian Diocese in the State of Karnataka has submitted a memorandum against the atrocities on Christians in Orissa. The Memorandum addressed to Sri Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Orissa and Sri Shivraj Patil, Home Minister of the Government of India through the Deputy Commissioner of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka was submitted in the name of the Bishop of Mangalore, Most Rev. Aloysius Paul D'Souza by Rev. Fr. Henry Sequeira, Chancellor and Judicial Vicar of the Diocese as the Bishop is under medical treatment. The full text of the Memorandum follows:

29 August 2008


Hon'ble Sri Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister, Orissa

Hon'ble Sri Shivaraj Patil
Home Minister,
Government of India

The Deputy Commissioner, D.K.,

Honorable Sir

In the wake of the recent violence unleashed in the Kandhamal District of Orissa and the killing of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswathi and his four associates in the Ashram, which the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) as well as the Christian community of Orissa and in other parts of the country strongly denounced and condemned and appealed for maintaining communal harmony and peace, there have been unwarranted attacks on Christians and their houses and institutions in the same district and neighbouring areas.

Some organizations in Orissa pointed fingers at the Christian community and brutally murdered Fr. Thomas Pandipally, a CMI priest. An orphanage managed by Christian missionares was set ablaze. A woman working for that orphanage and a paralytic man in his own hous, were burned to death. Two priests and a few religous women were seriously injured and several Christian institutions destroyed. Fearing for their life many Christians including women and children, religious men and women have taken shelter in the nearby forests!

We are deeply pained to see our brothers and sisters in Orissa being targeted for no fault of theirs; they are victims of a calibrated malicious campaign by certain unruly organizations that take the law in their own hands. Besides, the calibrated malicious campaign has already spread or is spreading to the other States. In the light of this, we express our helplessness.

We Christians are a peace-loving and law abiding citizens of our great country, India. We are no less patriotic than others. We have manifested our patriotism in many ways in the past and history is clear evidence to this truth. When atrocities take place we are adequately protected and many times justice is denied to the victims.

We solicit your support in the matter mentioned above and from our part we promise that we remain loyal citizens of this great nation of great people. We want to reiterate that as we are loyal to our religion, we are second to none in our allegiance to our country. Therefore we request you to grant us adequate protection.

Most Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D'Souza

Christians' Offense: Fighting Against Slavery

In India, the Christians' Offense Is Fighting Against Slavery

The slavery is that of the caste system. Against this, the Christians both preach and practice equal dignity for all. Professor Parsi explains the reasons for the growing Hindu violence. And he warns about the international repercussions

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, August 29, 2008 – This morning, the 15,000 Catholic schools in India closed their doors for the entire day. The Indian Catholic Church has called for a day of prayer and fasting for the first Sunday in September, with peaceful processions all over the country.

The reason is the new wave of violence that has struck the Christians in the state of Orissa. Every day, there is news of killing, wounding, rape, assaults against churches, convents, schools, orphanages, villages, carried out by Hindu fanatics. Hundreds of people have had to abandon their homes and flee to the forests.

The spark for the latest explosion of violence was struck with the killing, on August 23, of the Hindu religious leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and five of his followers. The killing was carried out by armed Maoist groups, but the Hindus used it as a pretext for blaming the Christians and taking revenge on them.

The epicenter of the latest violence is the district of Kandhamal, in the state of Orissa. For several months, this has been the most bloodstained state in the country. There are few Catholics there, less than 1 percent. There are also few conversions, but these are taken as another pretext for retaliation. What is unleashing the violence – according to Raphael Cheenath, the archbishop of Chuttack-Bhubaneswar, whose territory includes the district of Kandhamal – is the work that Christians in Orissa are carrying out on behalf of the tribals and the Dalits, at the very bottom of the caste system:

"Before, they were like slaves. Now, some of them study in our schools, start businesses in the villages, demand their rights. And those who – even in the India of the economic boom – want to keep intact the old division into castes are afraid that they will gain too much power. Orissa today is a laboratory. What is at stake is the future of millions of Dalits and tribals living all over the country."

According to the latest census, conducted in 2001, 80.5 percent of India's inhabitants are Hindu, while 13.4 percent are Muslim. The Christians are 2.3 percent. And they are even less numerous in Orissa and in the other states in the central and northern part of the country, the most densely populated areas. The highest percentages of Christians are in the easternmost part of the country, reaching 90 percent in Nagaland and Mizoram, 70 percent in Meghalaya, and 34 percent in Manipur. But these areas are thinly populated and very backward economically. In absolute numbers, Christians are most heavily represented in the southern part of the country, in Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. In Kerala, Christians are 19 percent of the population, and most of them are Catholic. The state boasts the highest level of education, including female education, in all of India.

The events of recent days confirm that coexistence between Christians and Hindus in India is no longer as peaceful and harmonious as the tradition – and myth – of this country would have one believe. Hindu intolerance and fanaticism are growing, and acts of violence against Christians are on the rise. To the silence and disinterest of the world.

The reasons for this development, and the dangers of ignoring it, are incisively analyzed by Vittorio E. Parsi, professor of international politics at the Catholic University of Milan, in this editorial published on August 27 in "Avvenire,"the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference:

Contradictions and fanaticism are undoing Gandhi's legacy

by Vittorio E. Parsi

The largest democracy in the world. This is the definition that is usually associated with India. It would be ungenerous and mistaken to forget this now, or to question it at its core. But it does seem necessary to question the quality of this democracy, and the direction that it is taking.

The Indian Union has the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a genuine multiparty system, and a free press. But at the same time, widespread corruption and the crony-client political system in the individual states, together with the substantial impunity granted to the violent actions of extremist groups, risk emptying of meaning the concrete significance of India's democracy.

The alarm is being raised in a particular way by the growth of sectarian violence, which is especially targeting the Christians – responsible for helping the Dalits, the outcastes, the slave foundation of the pyramidal system according to which Hindu society was traditionally organized – but also Muslims and Buddhists.

What is happening in India with worrying frequency and intensity shows the dark side of the independence achieved under the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent action. The story of his life itself, with its tragic conclusion, contains in symbolic form all of the contradictions of this extraordinary country: from the rediscovery of traditional culture and the village economy, to the decision to live as the least of the least, to the attempt to preserve the unity and religious pluralism of the old British Raj, to his violent death at the hand of a Hindu extremist.

More than 60 years after the country's independence, it is precisely the position that India should be solely and exclusively Hindu that is continually making new proselytes. Movements like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are the expression of a Nazi-like culture, which preaches through violence the false idea that being Indian means being Hindu, in spite of the fact that there are more Muslims living in in India than in many Muslim countries. Of course, there has always been Hindu hegemony in the political system, but it was mitigated to a certain extent by the fact that the early leaders of the republic, from Nehru to Indira Gandhi, all members of the Congress Party, acted on the basis of an essentially secular view of politics, blocking the most devastating consequences of such a contradiction.

It is likely that the sneering modern "spirit of the times" in which fundamentalism and the political abuse of religion seem to be re-emerging, on top of the radical tendencies of neighboring Pakistan, have contributed to the success of movements like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and of the Bharatiya Janata party. But – as Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has correctly observed – in Hinduism as well there is a growing push toward intolerance and fanaticism, which is all the more grave in that it is understood too little, and too often denied.

Beside the political contradiction is the economic contradiction. India is the "office" of the world, at least to the same extent that China is its "factory." It is a society that produces tens of thousands of English-speaking engineers each year, but still lives in the Gandhian myth of the village economy, that ossified structure which deprives the "least" of any hope, for this and any other life, and fosters the caste system with its aftermath of commonplace violence. It is the Christians who are held responsible for offering hope to the "least," for this and any other life. And they have accepted the burden of this responsibility, to the point of martyrdom, as has taken place in Orissa.

One last point of reflection. Brazil, Russia, India, and China are considered, together with South Africa, the leading countries that should balance the excessive power of the West and make the governing of the world more multilateral. One must begin to reflect on the fact that, with the exception of Brazil, none of these countries seems to have begun to reduce its heavy deficit of internal democracy, and on the consequences that this implies for international "governance."

Source: Chiesa

Memorandum to the Governor of Orissa

Memorandum to the Governor of Orissa

At the culmination of the Protest and Prayer Rally of the Christians of Delhi and National Capital Region at Orissa Bhawan on 29th August 20008, and the closure of all Christian institutions in the country in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the State

His Excellency Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
The Governor of Orissa


In deep anguish and pain, We, the Christian Community of the Delhi and National Capital Region, submit this memorandum to you, and not to the Chief Minister of Orissa, because we believe that by not stopping the Ethnic Cleansing of Christians in Orissa in the last six days, he has abdicated his Constitutional duties to the Sangh Parivar and thereby has forfeited his right to be in Government.

We therefore approach you, as the Constitutional Head of the State of Orissa and protector of the rights of the State’s citizens irrespective of their religion, caste or ethnic status, to restore sanity, peace, and the Rule of Law in the State, protect the life, liberty and property of the Christian community, specially in Kandhamal and other affected districts.

As you know, in the last six days in the second wave of mass violence since Christmas 2007, almost a score of Christian men and women have been brutally killed in acts reminiscent of the massacre of the Sikhs in Delhi and other places in 1984, and of the Muslims in 1993 in Mumbai and 2002 in Gujarat.

Nuns have been raped, pastors, Priests, religious workers injured in their hundreds. Over forty churches have been destroyed, many for the second time, apart from once again hundreds upon hundreds of houses burnt in towns, villages and forest settlements. Christians have been chased and hunted like animals. In case your intelligence apparatus has not briefed you properly, we attach herewith an incomplete list of the murder and mayhem in Orissa, as we gather data from the victims and the kin of the dead.

There is no element of doubt as to who is the perpetrator of the violence. It is the Sangh Parivar, and its component elements, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Vanvasi Kalyan Sangh, and especially groups connected with the ashrams of the late VHP Vice president Lakshmanananda Saraswati. VHP leaders, including Mr. Praveen Togadia have openly called for ethnic cleansing, and others have vowed not to rest from their bloody labours till they have rid Orissa of Christians.

The police have looked on for six months. They have often abetted in the violence and never intervened to save the hapless Christians and their institutions. Instead, the official machinery and the top policemen and bureaucrats have parroted the lies of the Hindutva Sangh Parivar and its narrow definition of religious nationalism to pin the blame of the acrimony on the Christians.

If the Chief minister and his government have forfeited their right to govern, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police have lost their right to be in active service. It is a shame they continue to be in office, and speaks volumes for the conspiracy between the Government, the coalition partner Bharatiya Janata party and the State official apparatus against the Christian community and the Christian Faith.

The state apparatus has failed thrice – to protect the Christians in December 2007, to protect the late VHP leader and unravel the mystery of his murder, and then to once again protect the Christians facing annihilation in August 2008.

We therefore call upon you as Governor to:

1. Write to the President of India to impose President’s Rule in Orissa, and that you take over the reigns of Governance so that peace is restored in Kandhamal and other districts.

2. Immediately suspend not constables and junior officials, but the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police for gross dereliction of duty, and for joining the conspiracy to wipe out Christians in Orissa.

3. Hand over the Kandhamal district in particular to the Indian Army, which alone can restore the confidence of the victims.

4. Trace the many people reported abducted, some feared dead or injured, in the last six days

5. Bring back the tens of thousands of Christians Tribals and Dalit villagers hiding for their lives in the forests, most of them without food and adequate drinking water

6. Hand over all investigations relating to the circumstances and course of violence to the Central Bureau of Investigations. The CBI should also investigate the murder of VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati.

7. Expand the terms of reference of the sitting Judicial Commission headed by Mr. Justice Basudeo Panigrahi to fix responsibility and culpability on government servants of all ranks, as also on guilty politicians.

8. Grant exemplary compensation to the next of kin of the dead, and to the injured. Grant immediate relief and rehabilitation to the victims so that they can rebuild their homes, get back their jobs and resume normal human lives.

9. Compensate the Church to rebuild and restore its religious, educations, and humanitarian institutions.

10. Set up Fast Track criminal court to try those found guilty at all levels during all phases of the violence.

This alone will prove to the world that India remains a secular country, which gives Constitutional guarantees of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the freedom of faith to its citizens, and for its children, the right to food, education and a childhood without the trauma of terror and the fear of death,

Thank you

God bless you, and God bless Orissa

In prayer

The Christian Community pf Delhi and the National Capital Region
Together with our brothers and sisters from other states.

Petitions Against Attack on Christians in Orissa

Something Everybody Can Do

Sign these petitions. Show Solidarity

1. Petition Against Attack on Christians in Orissa

2. Stop killing of Christians and destruction of Churches in Orissa, India

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"A Plan to Cleanse Orissa of its Christian Population"

The Motives Behind the Ongoing Violence

To Stop Tribals and Dalits From Developing and Achieving Dignity

Verbite clergyman and expert sociologist, Fr. Augustine Kanjamala, talks about the motives behind the ongoing waves of violence against Christians — conversion to Christianity, education and emancipation allow Tribals and Dalits to escape slave-like conditions. Fr. Augustine, who teaches at the University of Mumbai, appeals to the Churches of the world to "express their protest to the government of India" which has remained "inactive" with regards to anti-Christian violence. He openly charges the Orissa state government for its increasingly explicit collusion with the pogrom currently underway against the community of faithful.

According to Father Kanjamala a plan to cleanse Orissa of its Christian population has been in the making for years, especially in the district of Kandhamal (where most of the atrocities have taken place) where Christians now constitute around 5 per cent of the population. Conversions by, development for and emancipation of Tribals and Dalits are confronted by Hindutva conservatism.

This is a must read story.

Ahmedabad Citizens Condemn Orissa Violence





Several Concerned Citizens and Human Rights organizations of Gujarat held a meeting in Ahmedabad today (27th August 2008) to condemn the violent attacks on the Christian community of Orissa, following the brutal killing of the VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati.

The meeting strongly condemned the continuous attacks on Christian organizations and institutions by the VHP, Bajrang Dal, etc. and was of the view that the Government of Orissa has totally failed in protecting the lives and properties of the Christian Community. Looking to the prevalent situation of Orissa, the Constitutional machinery has absolutely failed in maintaining law and order in the State.

In view of this, the meeting unanimously passed the following resolutions:

1.. That the State of Orissa be placed under the control of army and President's Rule be imposed immediately.

2.. That the citizens who have fled into the jungles out of fear, should be brought back to their homes safely and that complete security be ensured to them.

3.. That all organizations who had declared the Orissa Bandh, and who have been directly involved in the violent attacks on Christians, should be declared as "terrorist" organizations and should be put under the same category of other banned organizations in the country, with immediate effect.

4.. That all the individuals and groups involved in violent attacks on Christians should be arrested and strictly dealt with in accordance with the law.

5.. That the brutal killing of Swami Laxmananda and his associates should be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and that the killers be punished in accordance with the law.

1.. Adv. S. H. Iyer
2.. Rohit Patel
3.. Saroop Dhruv
4.. Gautam Thaker
5.. Hiren Gandhi
6.. Adv. Bhushan
7.. Dwarikanath Rath
8.. Shamshul Pathan
9.. Joseph Dominic
10.. Kiran Desai
11.. Kishore
12.. S. Pandey
13.. Deepika R.
14.. Simon F. Parmar
15.. Edwin Masihi
16.. Beena Macwan
17.. D. Ramakrishnan
18.. Fr. Varghese Paul sj
19.. Digant Oza
20.. Paul D'Souza sj
21.. Piyush
22.. Manjula Lavji
23.. John D'Souza
24.. Ashok Singh
25.. Iqbal Baig
26.. Prasad Chacko
27.. Waqar Qazi
28.. Mary Paul
29.. Bhavna Ramrakhiani
30.. Sheba George
31.. Fr. Francis Parmar sj
32.. Ashok Naik
33.. Fr. Vinayak Jadav sj
34.. Lona Pinto
35.. Fr. Ishanand sj
36.. E. Shailaja Pillai
37.. Sophia Khan
38.. Freeda Coelho
39.. Pravin Bhikadira
40.. Chetana Vyas
41.. Jigna Joshi
42.. Harsh Jadav
43.. Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
44.. Kaushik Raval
45.. Nafisa Barot
46.. Veronica D'Souza
47.. Hanif Lakdawala
48.. R. Vasantha

27th August 2008

Some Pictures of the Orissa Violence

Photos of the Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa

Firefighters douse the flames at an orphanage at Khuntpalli village in Orissa where Hindu fanatics burnt alive a 20-year-old woman.

House of a Christian destroyed in the violence in Orissa. Anti-Christian violence since Aug. 25 has killed at least 14 people in four days.

Missionaries of Charity nuns are keeping prayer vigil for peace in violence-torn Orissa state. A convent of their congregation was destroyed in the arson.

Arsonists block public traffic in Orissa on Aug. 25 when VHP called a Bandh to protest gunning down of their leader Lazmananda Saraswati on the night of Aug. 23.

The remains of a Church set afire by Hindu fanatics in the violence in Orissa. Anti-Christian violence since Aug. 25 has killed at least 14 people in four days.

Police guard a church in Bhubaneshwar, capital of Orissa state where anti-Christian violence killed at 14 least people since Monday.

Acknowledgement: All pictures provided courtesy of ICNS, the news site of the Indian Bishops Conference.

Christian Institutions to Remain Closed Aug 29, 2008


Bishop's House
Ahmedabad -380 001
Gujarat, India

28th August, 2008





FRIDAY, AUGUST 29th 2008

The Christian community has strongly denounced the killing of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and his associates in Orissa. However, inspite of the fact that the Christians were not involved in this heinous act, there are several incidents of Christians being attacked and killed and their properties being destroyed all over the State.

Therefore, in keeping with a decision taken by the National United Christian Forum representing all major Church denominations (including CBCI, NCCI and EFI Churches), all Christian Schools, Colleges and other Educational Institutions will remain closed on Friday, 29th August 2008, in protest against the violent attacks on the Christian community in Orissa and in other parts of India.

Further, all Christian Churches will be organizing special prayer services for the victims of the Orissa violence and for peace, on Sunday, 31st August and Sunday, 7th September 2008.

There is also a plan to organize a public rally on Tuesday, 2nd September.

The Christian community of Gujarat, appeals to the Central Government and to the Government of Orissa to take strong measures against those responsible for the violence in the State and to ensure that communal harmony and peace is restored immediately.

+ Bishop Thomas Macwan
Bishop of Ahmedabad

Orissa Violence: Govt. Like Mute Spectators

Orissa Violence is Assault on Justice and Peace: Archbishop Bernard Moras

BANGALORE, Karnataka (SAR NEWS) -- "It is shocking that the government of Orissa never took sufficient steps to subvert violence and douse the flames of communalism in the state and has failed to arrest the culprits and are like mute spectators" Archbishop Bernard Moras, President of the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops' council told a press conference at the Archbishop's House. He said that the Catholic Church in Karnataka expresses great alarm at the brutal violence against Christians.

Denying allegations that Catholics were involved in forced conversions, Rector of Jesuit Institutions in Karnataka Fr. Terence Farias said "We Christians abide by the law, if there are any forcible conversions, let the government initiate legal action, but nobody should take law into their hands" The Archbishop added "All forcible conversions are to be condemned. Conversion is a personal decision between the individual and God"

Appealing to press persons at the conference Sr. Genevieve, Secretary, Karnataka Catholic Schools Association, "It is disheartening that the Media has very often failed to speak about our work among the marginalized and also failed to publish news about attacks on our community. We often receive nothing, or just a small space in the newspapers about such injustices".

The Archbishop observed "The Government of Orissa never took sufficient steps to subvert violence and douse the flames of communalism in the state, despite the government being forewarned of possible communal attacks on the Christian community way back in September 2006, with the publication of "Communalism in Orissa" - the Report of the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights - headed by Justice K. K. Usha (Retd.) former Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.

The Church in India has served and continues to serve the less privileged and the marginalized in the remotest parts of the country, even where government services have not reached the poor. To attack the Church and its members amounts to assaulting the cause of Justice Peace and Harmony. In view of this all the schools will remain closed across the country. The Archbishop declared that all educational institutions in Karnataka will remain closed on Friday August 29th in protest against the violence against Christians in Orissa.

Source: SAR News

List of Damaged Churches, Institutions

Bishops Issue List of Damaged Churches, Institutions

NEW DELHI (ICNS): The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on Thursday released the number of people killed and list of Christian churches and institutions attacked and destroyed in the continuing violence that started on Monday.

The following is the list that CBCI spokes person Father Babu Joseph released.

1. Number of Deaths

Kandhamal District -12
Barakhama - 6
Tiangia - 2 (2 seriously injured)
Petapanga - 1 (Raikia)
Tikaballi - 1
Bodimunda - 1
Bakingia - 1
Bargard District - 1
Padanpur - 1 (Kantapali)

2. Number of Churches Destroyed

1. Petapanga Church
2. Mondakia Church
3. Catholic Church Rotangia
4. Believers church Ratingia
5. Diocese Church Ratingia
6. Believers Church Gimangia
7. Diocese Church Gimangia
8. Mdahukia Church
9. Catholic Church Raikia
10 Catholic Church Badimunda
11. Pentecostal Church Badimunda
12. Catholic Church Breka
13. Pentecostal Church Breka
14. Catholic Church Pobingia
15. Catholic church Srasanaanda
16. Catholic Church, Phulbani
17. Catholic Church, Betticola
18. Catholic Church Balliguda
19. Catholic Church Sankrakhol
20. Catholic Church
21. R.C. Church Kanjamedi
22. Diocese Church Kanjamedi
23. Pentecostal Church Kanjamedi
24. Pentecostal Church Jugapadar, Nuagam
25. Baptist Church Tumudiband
26. Pentecostal Church Tumudiband
27. Two Churches in Narayani patna
28. Catholic Church Muniguda
29. Catholic Church Padanpur
30. Church in Dhanpur
31. Catholic Church Tiangia
32. Baptist Church Tiangia
33. Catholic Church Gabindapali
34. Catholic Church Padua
35. Catholic Church Maliput
36. Catholic Church Duburi
37. Pentecostal Church, Tiangia
38. Catholic Church Modhupur
39. Catholic Church Nilungia
40. Pentecostal Church Nilungia
41. Catholic Church Boipariguda

3. Houses Damaged

1. Balliguda Mundasahi
2. Raikia - 17 houses
3. Badimunda - 9
4. Gimangia - 3
5. Gumagarh - 25
6. Tiangia-Pdisuballi, Majumaha, Budedipada, Kolanaju, Mundanaju, Sipaeju, Laburi - 160
7. Beticola - 10
8. Nilungia – 15
9. Balliguda Dumudisahi
10. Balliguda Hatpada Sahi
11. Raikia, Chunipalli
12. Mondakia, Bakingkia
13. Breaka (Sukanda)
14. Bodimunda
15. Rotingia
16. Sankharkhole
17. Tikaballi

4. Convents

1. St. Joseph's Convent, Sankharkhole
2. St. Anne's Convent, Pobinga
3. Mt. Carmel Convent, Balliguda
4. St. Anne's Convent, Padangi

5. Hostels

1. Padangi - 2
2. Pobigia - 2
3. Balliguda Convent - 1

6. Institutions

1. Pastoral Centre, Konjamendi
2. Janavikas
3. Poly Shree, Paburia
4. Gramya Pragati, Balliguda
5. Ajka, Raikia
6. Xavier Institution of Mangament
7. NISWASS, Bhubaneswar & Phulbani

7. Vehicles (innumerable)

The above list was released through ICNS August 28, 2008.

Police Refuse Christians Protection

Indian Archbishop Says Police Refuse Christians Protection

In the latest from India, the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in the Orissa state, Raphael Cheenath told us Christians are being abducted, and many are seeking refuge in the forest as police say they cannot protect those threatened...

All the priests, religious, and lay leaders are hiding in the forest. Therefore communication with them is also very difficult.

A priest ran up the Archbishop saying he was in the forest for the fourth day without much to eat...

Two priests were kidnapped and taken out from a parish called bubari. There has been no further information about them...

Another priest in-charge of the pastoral centre and a sister working there were apprehended and hid themselves in a house. The miscreants went there, pulled them out, stripped them, molested the nun and paraded them in the market place even as 10 policemen stood and watched...

The police are now saying to convents, churches and institutions: You please run away, we cannot protect you, we don't have enough people, and therefore you go anywhere...

Download and Listen: Police Refuse Christians Protection

20 Year Old Rajni Burnt to Death

How a 20 Year Old Girl Was Burnt to Death Watched by a Cheering Mob

Rajni Majhi (20) who was burnt alive by the mob

Fr. Edward Sequeira, a priest belonging to the Society of Divine Word (SVD), was one of those who was seriously injured when his mission station was attacked by the mob in Orissa.

Currently recuperating at Burla Medical College Hospital, Sambalpur, Fr. Sequeira, upon gaining consciousness, narrated the story to his brother Commodore Valentine Sequeira who writes:
A large mob of more than 700 people were returning after attending the cremation of Swami Laxmananand Saraswati who was killed along with four others Saturday evening by suspected Maoist guerrillas at his Jalespata ashram.

The mob was chanting anti-Christian slogans and when they reached Padampur in Bargarh district, they attacked the orphanage where Fr Edward lived.

Ms. Rajni, a 20 year old student who lived in the orphanage and was also working as an auxiliary nurse in the orphanage confronted them.

When Fr Sequeira arrived at the spot, the mob locked him and Rajni into separate rooms, and ordered the children to vacate the orphanage. The mob then ransacked Fr Sequeira's room, poured petrol on him, Rajni and set the orphanage on fire.

The ruins of the orphange that was burned own.

"I was engulfed in flames, I could hear the cries of Rajni and the mob was cheering and shouting through the windows," recalls Fr Sequeira.

He however, managed to crawl to the bathroom, beat out the flames and closed the windows.

"When I started to suffocate I found a crack on the wall that was damaged in the attack and kept my nose there to breath some air. All the while I could hear the cries of Rajni from the next room where she was writhing in agony. After sometime, there was silence and I thought she must have managed to escape from the room," recalled Fr Sequeira.

Unknown to Fr Edward, the girl was burnt alive and had breathed her last.

Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD recovering in the hospital.

People from the neighborhood who heard the cries of children rushed to the rescue, broke the walls and brought him to safety. That is when the mob attacked him again outside the orphanage and beat him up mercilessly till he became unconscious. He was initially rushed to the hospital at Padampur and later with the help of local officials was shifted to Burla Medical College Hospital, in Sambalpur.
"The cries of Rajni and the guilt of helplessness in saving her life will always haunt me," Fr. Edward sighs.

Full story at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Goa Archdiocese Expresses Solidarity with Orissa Victims

The following is the approved English translation from the original Konkani, of the Circular Letter sent by Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao to all the Parish Priests of the Archdiocese:


To the Priests, Religious, Lay Faithful and People of good will

(Approved English version of the Circular Letter No. CP-Cir/202/2008
written originally in Konkani language)

Theme: Violence in the State of Orissa

Dearly Beloved,

The happenings taking place these days in Orissa cannot but cause concern. VHP leader, Swami Lakshananda Saraswati and four of his companions were shot at and murdered in their Ashram and, since then, Christian individuals and institutions are being targeted and destroyed.

The Catholic Bishops in India have expressed their sorrow and registered their protest over the killing of the Swami and the ensuing spate of violence and asked for prayers for peace; together with them, we too expressed our feelings over these events: you will have read this on the newspapers.

However, there is no guarantee that these chilling events will end soon and there do not seem to be signs that this communally disturbed atmosphere will be cleared easily. Some organizations in Orissa are laying the blame on the Christian Community, thus fanning the anti-Christian communal flame across the State. This has resulted, among other acts of violence, in the tragic burning to death of a woman working at an orphanage and of a paralytic man in his own house. Two priests and a few religious women were also seriously injured. Some priests and nuns have gone into hiding.

We cannot remain indifferent in such a situation. We need to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are going through untold suffering. It is with this in mind that we have planned to take the following initiatives in our Archdiocese:

All Catholic educational institutions in the Archdiocese shall remain closed on August 29.

September 7, Sunday, will be observed as a day of prayer and fasting.

A signature campaign will be organized to express our condemnation.

Protest Rallies will be held in a couple of places in Goa. More details will follow.

In view of the situation in Orissa, we appeal urgently to our Priests, Religious men and women, Christian faithful and all women and men of good will to express their solidarity with those who are suffering so grievously and, through their prayers for peace and communal harmony, to help these programmes meet with success.

Archbishop's House, Panjim, Goa, August 27, 2008.

+ Filipe Neri Ferrão
Archbishop of Goa and Daman

VIDEO: Orissa Communal Violence

The latest spurt of deadly religious violence in the East Indian state of Orissa is undoubtedly a blot on the secular credentials of India as a country, says citizen journalist Sandhya who has this video report for

Pope Condemns Violence, Appeals for Peace

Pope: In India, Religious and Civil Authorities Must Work to Stop the Violence

Firm condemnation from Benedict XVI for what is taking place in Orissa, for "every attack on human life". Solidarity with the Christian victims of attacks by Hindus. For the faithful present at the general audience, he drew a portrait of Saint Paul, "tireless apostle of the Gospel".

The Pope's Words...

"I have learned with deep sadness the news about the violence against the Christian communities in the Indian State of Orissa, which erupted following the deplorable murder of the Hindu leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati. Some persons have been killed and others injured. Worship centers, church property and private houses have also been destroyed.

While I firmly condemn all attacks against human life, the sacredness of which demands the respect of all, I express my spiritual closeness and solidarity to the brothers and sisters in the faith so hardly tried. I implore the Lord to accompany and support them in this time of suffering and give them the strength to continue in the service of love in favour of all.

I ask the religious leaders and civil authorities to work together to restore among the members of the various communities the peaceful coexistence and harmony which have always been the distinguishing mark of the Indian society."
Download and Listen: Real audio broadcast by Vatican Radio.

ORISSA: Christians Beaten and Cut to Pieces

"Only now the death of a Catholic man in the village of Tiangia has come to light. After he was killed Vikram Nayak was cut to pieces. Two other people close to him were so seriously beaten up and hurt that they died two days later."

Read the full story:

Orissa: burning and looting continues, Christians beaten and cut to pieces

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ORISSA: Christians in Deep Trouble

ORISSA: Christians in Deep Trouble

Fr. Pius Fernandes SJ, Bhubaneshwar

Fr Pius Fernandes SJ writes from Bhubaneshwar about the incidents at Khandamahal District in Orissa. The burning and looting continues even as he writes this article (Aug 26, 10.00pm).

Bhubaneshwar Aug 26: Violence re-erupted within the Indian state of Orissa today. The attacks performed by Hindu extremist groups are just one link in a long chain of events that have continued to strain Hindu-Christian relations within the state.

Today's attacks were triggered by the killing of a prominent Hindu leader this past weekend. On Saturday, August 23rd, Swami Laxanananda Saraswati along with five other people was shot dead in his Jalaspeta Ashram near Tumudibandha (Kandhamal District, Orissa). Naxalite groups, especially prominent in this region, have taken credit for the attacks. The Swami was 84 years old and was especially known for violently opposing cow slaughter and conversion to Christianity. He is also believed to have orchestrated the Christmas 2007 riot against Christians in the Kandhamal district of Orissa which has left thousands of Christians homeless to this day. Since the December attacks Hindu-Christian relations have remained tense within Kandhamal. In retaliation for the August 23rd killings the VHP and its allied political families called for a bandh (road blockade) for the 25th of August. In the meantime a judicial enquiry is ordered into the incident, though many opposition parties have called for the resignation of Naveen Patnaik's for failing to maintain law and order.

In retaliation for the Swami's death, the extremist wing of the VHP has engaged in a series of attacks against Christians which started on 23 rd and are expected to continue.

On 23rd evening immediately after the news of murder of Swami Laxmanaadada 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 driver 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 attacks.

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 Raikia.

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 pm 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 hiding.

In a very similar way, at 2 pm the house of 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.

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 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 recognise.

  • 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, Abenswar Digal's house is set fire, under Tikabali Police station.

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 25 th 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 ransacked.

  • 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 they were about are yet to be found. Institutions like XIMB, St. Arnold's School and 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 village.

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 College.

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

In Sambalpur district, HM 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 state.

In continuation to all this violence across the state, Dibyasingh Pariccha, PRO and Secretary, Justice and Peace Commission (Arch Diocese of Cuttak 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.

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 studies.

Courtesy: Daijiworld