Orissa, statues of the Virgin and Child Jesus destroyed at Easter
by Nirmala Carvalho

The grotto with the statue of Mary, at the entrance to the Salangabahal church. A warehouse of sacred ornaments was also burned in Bihabandh parish. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Kandhamal anti-Christian pogroms.

Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Two parishes of the diocese of Rourkela, in the Indian state of Orissa, were attacked on Easter Sunday. In the village of Bihabandh, some criminals set ablaze to an old chamber adjacent to the sacristy, used as a storehouse for sacred objects.

A short distance away, in the parish of Salangabahal, criminals ransacked the grotto of Our Lady placed next to the entrance, took the statue of the Virgin and smashed another of the Child Jesus.

Msgr. Kishor Kumar Kujur, bishop of the diocese, denounces: "It was a premeditated and planned attack. Both incidents occurred during the night, at about the same time. The parishes are 7-8 km away from each other. This is the work of the same group, which is against the Christian community ".

These episodes are worrying, both because they took place during sacred time of the Easter Triduum, and because they took place happened in Orissa, the theater in 2008 of the most ferocious anti-Christian persecution by groups of Hindu radicals. Msgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, complains: "We did not expect such an attack in a secular country. These episodes of desecration that offend our religious sentiment must end. "

The archbishop recalls that "this year marks the tenth anniversary of the violence of Kandhamal [the district most affected by Hindu ferocity, ed.]. The whole population of India can and must make a common effort to enable the country to progress in a timely manner by supporting India’s secular demands".

"Religious freedom - he continues - and to profess their beliefs in freedom must be respected and defended. Human dignity and justice must prevail, even in the smallest and most remote rural areas of India. This type of incident only brings shame and disgrace to our country. It must not be allowed to continue".

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