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  • » 10/10/2008, 00.00

    INDIA

    Indian activist: Massacre of Christians planned in advance

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Lenin Raghuvanshi has visited Orissa as a member of a fact-finding team established by the European commission for the prevention of torture. Hindu radicals have a program for expunging Christians from the region and reconverting tribals and pariahs to Hinduism.

    Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - The campaign of attacks against Christians in Orissa was planned for months. This is the claim of Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights. Mr. Raghuvanshi visited Orisa as part of of a fact-finding team for the European commission for the prevention of torture.

    Speaking to AsiaNews, he says that "In the Kandhamal district, it is very clear that a cleansing of marginalized Christian populace is taking place by RSS, BajrangDal and VHP cadres (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad)."

    The wave of violence has so far killed 61 people, injured 18,000, destroyed 4,500 homes, and burned and razed 181 churches. It was apparently motivated by the killing of Swami Laxamananda Saraswati, a leader of the VHP, last August 23. He was killed by a group of Maoists, but Hindu fundamentalist groups immediately accused the Christians of the assassination.

    "In fact, on August 14," Raghuvanshi explains, "nearly 10 days before the death of Swami Laxamanada, a mob of RSS people came to Sahasipudar village and threatened the people of the perils of following the Christian faith . These extremists also warned the margnisalised Christian community that henceforth the Gita [editor's note: one of the sacred books of Hinduism] was their sacred book."

    In Orissa, campaigns to reconvert Christian tribals and pariahs back to Hinduism date back for decades. The swami killed in August was himself a fierce promoter of this. Last December, on Christmas eve, he was the one who had pushed for new attacks against Christians, in which 13 homes were burned and 3 people killed, while thousands of faithful were forced to flee.

    "After the December anti-Christian violence," Raghuvanshi says, "three families converted to Hinduism out of fear. It is most unfortunate, in a broken down church the picture of Swami Laxamandanda has been installed."

    Mr. Lenin Raghuvanshi recently won the “Acha Peace Star” prize for his efforts for reconciliation among communities in India. Commenting further on the violence in Orissa and on his work with the fact-finding mission, he says: "We were witnesses to most deplorable and inhuman atrocities, most probably, these fundamentalists forces are whipping up communal frenzy with a view to the state elections scheduled next year. Here elections are won at the cost of human lives - how much lower can humanity stoop?"

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    See also

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

    19/11/2008 INDIA
    Sister who was raped gives deposition to police, but will not return to Orissa
    Sister Meena and Fr. Thomas Chellan have recounted the violence they suffered on the night they were assaulted by Hindu fundamentalists. This sister remains in Delhi, and will not participate in the "American-style" lineup scheduled today in Baliguda. Ministers of the central government are meeting with Christian families from Orissa living in refugee camps.

    25/02/2009 INDIA
    Government blocks rebuilding of church in Orissa
    The church was about to be turned into a Hindu temple. The authorities have stopped construction, but they are not permitting the Catholics to rebuild the edifice, for "legal" reasons.

    29/12/2008 INDIA
    Security forces in Orissa can't stop arson, fear
    Two shops and a Christian center have been burned. More than 10,000 refugees gathered in the camps have celebrated Christmas under the protection of the army. In the villages, the Masses were moved up to the afternoon in order to avoid returning home in the dark.

    16/10/2008 INDIA
    Sangh Parivar wants to remove every Christian trace in Orissa
    Christians are not allowed to pray even in government-run refugee camps. The ground on which homes and churches once stood are taken over and “cleansed” of every trace of violence. Hindus tell raped nun to marry her rapist. The hue and cry is still on for Christians.



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