09/25/2008, 00.00
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Despite curfew a hundred homes and two churches set on fire overnight in Orissa

by Nirmala Carvalho
Christians are scared of night-time attacks. Radical Hindus attack police, guilty in their eyes of jailing some of their fellow co-religionists involved in violence in past days. Christians forced to reconvert are also forced to burn churches and homes of other Christians. Terrorism sponsored by the state of Orissa comes in for harsh criticism.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – About a hundred homes and some churches have been damaged and burnt last night in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa), where a wave of anti-Christian violence is into its second month with no end in sight. Despite police deployment and the arrival of special forces the rampage of radical Hindus bent on destroying all Christian institutions and riding the state of all its Christians has continued unabated. Even the curfew that was imposed on nine areas in the district has not stopped Hindu fundamentalists from destroying 30 homes and a church in the Sikacheta village; 20 homes in Telenga; and 55 homes and another church in Beheragaon.

Radical Hindu groups are demanding the release of some of their members jailed for their role in recent violence. And in order to get what they want they have attacked some police stations and blocked roads with trees to hamper police operations.

Under the circumstances Christians are truly scared that their isolation could facilitate further attacks.

Hindu fundamentalists claim that they are acting to stop conversions to Christianity by fraudulent means, including bribery.

Out in the villages they have threatened Christian converts with death and the destruction of their homes if they do not re-convert to Hinduism.

A source in Kandhamal district told AsiaNews that in one village all but six Christian families “surrendered,” i.e. reconverted, and were forced, as a token of their surrender, to torch the chapels and homes of other Christians.

Abraham Mathai, deputy chairman of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission, has called for the state of Orissa to be placed under direct presidential rule.

“The violence in Kandhamal has continued for 45 days now, unabated and unhindered by the state machinery,” he said in a statement released today. “Should we proclaim this State complicit with or a sponsor of mob terror?”

In his view “with an increase [in] anarchy and an impotent and dysfunctional State Government, the only way to contain this situation is to invoke Article 356 and dismiss the Orissa Government and hand over the administration to the army . . .  . The inaction of the Orissa State Government to contain the violence thus far has only emboldened these communal forces to carry out similar attacks in other states viz. Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, etc.”

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