08/27/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: burning and looting continues, Christians beaten and cut to pieces

by Nirmala Carvalho
Vikram Nayak was killed, and then cut to pieces. Two Christians die two days after suffering serious injuries. Unrest by radical Hindus continues as police is ordered to shoot on sight those who break the curfew. Two nuns who were attacked tell their stories; Catholic schools to close for a day; the faithful are called to observe a day of prayer and fasting.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Burning, looting, manhunts and violence against women continue today in the state of Orissa as the curfew imposed by the government is expanded from the district of Kadhamal to other cities. Police are ordered to shoot on sight.

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

The murder took place last Sunday evening at the end of the funerals of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati whose assassination was blamed on Christians.

Christian homes in Tiangia were torched and families forced to flee into the forests. They were however pursued and attacked by extremists.

Sister Karuna, a nun with the order of the Precious Blood, was one of the first to be hit. Speaking to AsiaNews, she confirmed that “burning and looting were continuing this morning. Women are being molested and brutalised and extremists are doing what they want with them.”

Sister M. Suma, from the Sisters of Mother Teresa, said that ‘Christian villages are being razed to the ground. Terrified, Carmelite nuns have had to flee their convent to find shelter in the woods.”

Rumours that extremists from other states are coming to Orissa to help local radicals have also been confirmed. Hindu supremacists from Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have converging in the district of Kandhamal.

Some Protestant Christians have said the government of the state of Chhattisgarh is helping paramilitary groups to reach Orissa to attack Christians.

Attacks continue in spite of the curfew and the presence of anti-riot units. Police yesterday killed four radical Hindus as hundreds of others attacked the village of Barakhama. Law enforcement agents can shoot on sight those who violate the curfew.

Fresh attacks and burning were reported in Baliguda, Udaygiri and Raikia.

Orissa’s government has come under criticism by Indian political leaders and leading public figures for being slow in enforcing law and order.

Some people suspect that it wants to cover up the violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists. On the day violence first broke out with looting, killing and fires, Home Secretary Tarunkanti Mishra told journalists the demonstrations organised by the Sangh Parivar after Swami Laxmanananda’s death were “almost entirely peaceful.”

Sangh Parivar is an umbrella group of Hindu nationalist associations, including paramilitary groups linked to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Sr M Suma, from the Missionaries of Charity, appealed to AsiaNews. “Please, let the whole world that we should love one another—we are al children of the same Father.”

Elsewhere male and female missionaries of Charity have had stone thrown at them; one of their orphanages and one of their hospitals have been damaged. The same has happened to the vehicles they use to transport the sick and ill.

In light of the situation Catholic schools across India have decided to close down next Friday as a protest against the anti-Christian violence in Orissa. For that day the Indian Church is planning a day of prayer and fasting in solidarity with Orissa’s persecuted Christians.

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