09/03/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: six more churches set on fire, hundreds of homes destroyed

More and more Christian villages are being plundered and set on fire as police remains idle. Death threats are made against Christians if they practice their faith. but according to the government of Orissa the situation is “under control”.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – The anti-Christian pogrom in the state of Orissa shows no signs of a let-up. In the past three days six churches have been attacked, set on fire and destroyed; hundreds of Christian-owned houses have been devastated and then torched. The number of refugees and missing people is rising.

According to reports that have reached AsiaNews from the diocese of Bhubaneshwar, the Catholic church in Padunbadi was attacked last night, plundered and torn down. Even the church wall was razed to the ground. The Catholic church in the village of Kakadabadi was also attacked yesterday and torched.

On Monday the Baptist church in Durgaprasad, the Catholic church in Chadiapally, and both the Catholic and Baptist churches in Balligada were set on fire and destroyed.

Also on Monday at 4 pm the Catholic church in Mondasore, a heritage building dating back to more than a century ago, was attacked, plundered and then set on fire. The residence and car of the parish priest, Jugal Kishore Digal, saw the same fate.

Rabindra Parichha, from the village of Bhaliapada, which is part of Mondasore Parish, blames police, blames police inaction.

“I had called the district control room and asked for the security force and also faxed a letter explaining the danger for the Mondasore Parish,” he said. “In spite of this my Parish church was attacked and destroyed.”

In an attempt to wipe out Christians and stop conversions radical Hindus have attacked and torched Christian homes. Just in the last three days two houses were set on fire and destroyed in Raikia; 50 in Balligada; three in Kakadabadi; 35 in Tikabali (Beheragano); five in Chakapad and one in G. Udayagir.

Most Christians have fled into the forest or found refuge in makeshift shelters set up by the government; others are facing retaliations and threats.

Christians in the village of Padani have bee forced to carry out Hindu ceremonies and have received threats if they dare practice Christianity.

Meanwhile in New Delhi the Supreme Court, after being petitioned by Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Bhubaneshwar, asked the government of Orissa to report on the anti-Christian violence.

The state government is suspected of letting radical Hindus meet disregarding security concerns.

A government adviser said the government had no knowledge of the meetings and the current situation was “under control”.

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