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  • » 10/03/2008, 00.00


    Lalji Nayak, martyr for the faith in Orissa

    Nirmala Carvalho

    With a knife pressed to his throat, threatened with death, he did not renounce his Christian faith. But there are others who, under threat, have been forced to convert to Hinduism. Injured Christians attacked even in the hospital. Three more villages attacked in the district of Kandhamal. The missionaries of Mother Teresa want to return to take care of leprosy and tuberculosis patients.

    Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Lalji Nayak, tortured to force him to abandon his Christian faith, died of his injuries two days ago. Fr Manoj Nayak of the diocese of Bhubaneshwar calls him "a martyr for the faith".

    Fr Manoj recounts that "they [his radical Hindu assailants] stuck a knife in his neck and threatened to kill him if he did not renounce Christianity, but Lalji Nayak, even though he was severely bleeding, refused to abandon his faith. He died in the hospital on October 1".

    Lalji Nayak's village, in Rudangia, was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists on September 30, at four o'clock in the morning. Rudangia is in the district of Kandhamal, the epicenter from which the pogrom against Christians began more than a month ago.

    On the same day on which Lalji died, the injured were attacked even inside the hospital. Fr Oscar Tete, superior of the Missionaries of Charity, the men's branch of Mother Teresa's order, tells AsiaNews: "On October 1, a mob entered the Berhampur Government Hospital, causing a ruckus and commotion, they came for the six victims and were just barely stopped from attacking those six patients. These Christians are now being targeted inside the government hospital itself". Today, Fr Tete will move the patients to the order's house in Bhapur Bazar, also in Berhampur.

    Fr Oscar Tete was in charge of the Shani Nivas hospice for lepers in Srashananda, in the district of Kandhamal,which was destroyed by radical Hindus last August 24, at the beginning of the pogrom.

    Fr Oscar tells what happened that day: "We had just left our MC home in Srasananda when the mob attacked. They completely burnt down the building where the leprosy patients were admitted and the chapel which was just being rebuilt after the December ’07 carnage. The extremists then beat up the ten general patients in an attempt to make them confess where we were hiding. These radicals then poured some chemical into the patients' eyes and left after destroying our home this time too. These leprosy and tuberculosis patients were moved into the Udaigiri relief camp and later we brought them to this Mother Teresa’s Home in Berhampur".

    Since then, in Orissa and in other states episodes of violence and destruction have been reported every day. Yesterday afternoon, 120 homes belonging to Christians were burned in the district of Baudh, bordering on Kandhamal. The inhabitants fled into the forest.

    Fr Oscar Tete is not giving up, and wants to return to Srashananda to take care of leprosy and tuberculosis patients again. "Mother Teresa always told us to be with the suffering and the poor", he says. "We cannot abandon our mission".

    In Bhubaneshwar, Fr Manoj recounts another story of humiliation: the pain of his elderly father, who was threatened with an ax at his throat and forced to convert to Hinduism. "My father was the postmaster of the district, a respected educated person, he was a Catholic catechist of the diocese for the past 30 years. On August 27, a mob came to the Tiangia village, unleashed their fury and specifically targeted my dad, Anaklet Nayak. These radicals had prior information of the village and being the leader, my dad was identified. These men placed an ax at his neck and forced him to change to Hinduism. Now, even more than a month later, my father is literally under their guard, he is continuously surrounded by extremists and is completely helpless, these radicals are not letting him out of their control. But the pain of his forced conversion to Hinduism is the severest torture he has to undergo.”

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    See also

    20/10/2008 INDIA
    More homes burned in Orissa. Statement by the bishops
    Extremists are violating the curfew. Raids on domesticated animals, and celebrations amid the ruins. The bishops proclaim a total lack of trust toward the government of Orissa. Singh's proposal to rebuild the destroyed churches has been denounced by fundamentalist groups.

    13/09/2008 INDIA
    Orissa, the drama of the refugees: forced conversion to Hinduism or more violence
    According to the government, the situation is "under control", but it has delayed the elections, and has barred entry to the district of Kandhamal. A Christian activist denounces new violence against the refugees, while Hindu fundamentalists have drawn up a list of 140 Christians "guilty" of the murder of the Swami.

    29/10/2008 INDIA
    Indian Church remembers Fr. Bernard Digal, martyr of the faith in Orissa
    Archbishop Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar emphasizes his "tireless" work on behalf of "persecuted Christians," and his devotion to the Virgin Mary. His fellow religious stress his "virtues and ability to forgive his persecutors." Friday October 31, the community's last goodbye to the slain priest.

    09/09/2008 INDIA
    Orissa: no peace for Christians even in refugee camps
    Even in the camps, the faithful find fundamentalists who coerce them to convert to Hinduism. Priests also threatened and abused.

    08/10/2008 INDIA
    Sr. Nirmala Joshi in Orissa: Pray for the Christians of India
    The superior of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa's order, is visiting the Indian region where an unprecedented attack has been unleashed against Christians and their institutions. Sr. Nirmala is asking the government to guarantee religious freedom, and is asking the Christians of the world to raise insistent prayers to God, who can do anything and is able to bring good even from evil.

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