Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The authorities in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Orissa, yesterday demolished a church and 30 houses of the Christian community that lives in the slums Behera, in the district of Nayapalli. AsiaNews was alerted of the episode by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The municipality and the Development Authority justified the destruction of places of worship, housing and all of the worldly possessions of the owners with the need to expand and extend the adjacent street.
Sajan K. George, president of the GCIC, the demolition "is a gross
violation of human rights. The administration decided to destroy their homes just
as Orissa is suffering a heat wave". Overall,
the Christian community in the area has 250 members.
The gesture the activist told AsiaNews, "is a way to intimidate and persecute these poor Christians. Now they have nowhere to live, and what is worse is that they have no food, no drinking water. Their future is daunting: most survive on daily work or are laborers. How will they survive now that all their belongings were destroyed? What will become of the women and children, who were already living in insecurity?".
The GCIC, he
adds, "is not contrary to progress and development, but this should not be
done without putting people at the center."
This is not the first time that the local church has been targeted by the authorities. On 2 July 2008, seven Protestant pastors were beaten and imprisoned on false charges of forced conversions. Back then - as now - the government in the Orissa was run by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a regional right wing party and ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu ultra-nationalist formation that since May 16 last is at the helm of the central government of 'India.