09/16/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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More anti-Christian violence in Orissa; school attacked in Kerala

by Nirmala Carvalho
A Christian has been killed and dozens of homes have been burned. Police are clashing with Hindu militants. The tension is spreading in Kerala, and remains high in Karnataka, where the government is accused of conniving with the fundamentalists.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The anti-Christian violence that began in Orissa three weeks ago has still not died down; instead, it is spreading into Kerala. The situation also remains tense in Karnataka.

In Orissa, weeks after the first violence and after days of curfew and a state of emergency, last night in the district of Kandhamal, the epicenter of the anti-Christian violence, a crowd of more than 500 Hindus attacked a police station and burned a number of vehicles. One policeman was killed. The attack seems to have been a retaliation against the police, who in recent days opened fire on militant Hindus in Krutamgarh, to stop them from burning homes belonging to Christians.

But the violence against the faithful continues. Fr Dibyasingh Parichha, spokesman for the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, tells AsiaNews that "on September 14, in the village of Makabali, twelve homes belonging to Christians were burned, plus one in Debari and one in Murudikupuda. Yesterday, near Raikia, a Christian was killed".

The wave of anti-Christian violence is spreading to other parts of India. The Catholic Jaya Mata school was attacked by unknown persons the night of September 14. This took place in the district of Kasargode (Kerala, southeast India). One school building is being used as a chapel on a temporary basis, since the parish church is being restored. Yesterday morning, Fr Anthony Punnoor found the sign outside the school destroyed, together with the windows; a statue of the Virgin Mary had been gouged with stones. The police have opened an investigation and have reinforced security around the churches, fearing attacks like in Orissa and Karnataka.

There is also tension in Mangalore (Karnataka). Last Sunday, September 14, 20 churches were ransacked by radical Hindus of the group Sangh Parivar. The Christians have demonstrated against the police, who did nothing to prevent the attacks. The Hindu fundamentalists justify their violence by accusing the Christians of proselytism and forced conversions. Even the chief minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa, instead of condemning the violence has asked the "Christian missionaries" to stop the forced conversions: "in a democracy", he said, "there is no room for forced conversions. No one should use them". Yeddyurappa is connected to the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), which promotes Hindu nationalism and provides cover for the actions of many fanatical groups.

The GCIC (Global Council of Indian Christians), based in Bangalore (in Karnataka), has accused the police of beating the Christians (see photo) and desecrating some of the churches in Mangalore. They accuse the government of Yeddyurappa (in power for 100 days) of "aggressively pursuing the ideas of those who killed Mahatma Gandhi". Gandhi was killed by a radical Hindu nationalist. Because of this lack of action toward (or connivance with) Hindu militancy, the president of the GCIC, Sajan George, has also asked for the resignation of the interior minister of Karnataka, and the suspension of all those responsible for the districts attacked.

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