08/25/2008, 00.00
INDIA

Orissa: Hindu extremists burn one nun alive, rape another

Nirmala Carvalho
Bubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – A Catholic nun was burnt alive by a group of Hindu fundamentalists who stormed the orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh (Orissa), this according to Police Superintendent Ashok Biswall. A priest who was at the orphanage was also badly hurt and is now being treated in hospital for multiple burns. Another nun from Bubaneshwar’s Social Centre was gang raped by groups of Hindu extremists before the building housing the facility was set on fire. Sources also told AsiaNews that elsewhere one priest was wounded and two other were abducted. The list of violent anti-Christian acts is thus getting longer.

For the past two days the state of Orissa (north-east India) has been racked by violence following the assassination of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda Saraswati.

Churches, community and pastoral centres, convents and orphanages have been attacked yesterday and today by mobs shouting “Kill the Christians; destroy their institutions.”

Tensions in the state are in fact still running high. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has planned demonstrations for today and tomorrow. Gangs of Hindu fanatics from the VHP as well as Sangh Parivar are roaming roads and villages, setting up road blocks, sending their own members on raids of plunder and violence.

According to firsthand accounts the archdiocese’s social centre was attacked and torched. Before that the attackers raped Sister Meena, a nun working at the centre.

The local pastoral centre, which has escaped destruction in last December’s violence, is now a total wreck. Father Thomas, who ran the facility, is in hospital with serious head injuries.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Ajay Singh also said that a nun was burnt alive in an orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh.

Elsewhere Sisters of Mother Teresa have been attacked by stone-throwing Hindu militants with one seriously injured.

All Christian institutions are now in danger because mobs of Hindu radicals are roaming the streets, breaking down doors and smashing windows, including in some cases Christian homes. Many priests and nuns have had to escape.

In Bubaneshwar Hindu militants stoned the Archbishop’s residence, but did not dare invade the place because of police presence.

In Phulbani the parish church and the home of local clergy were attacked and set on fire. All local priests fled and found refuge in the homes of some of members of the local congregation.

The youth hostel that houses students who study in Phulbani has also been torched.

Some missionaries of Charity who were attending a health course in Brahamanigoan were blocked for hours in the village.

Elsewhere nuns left their convent finding shelter in some school buildings.

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