06/18/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: 50 Hindu nationalists attack Christians. Fear of new pogroms

by Nirmala Carvalho
The pastor of a Pentecostal Church and 12 families of his community were seriously wounded, in the district of Balasore. The police seized explosives and dynamite in another district (Puri) of Orissa. According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Hindu nationalists are preparing a "diabolical plan" to repeat the 2008 violence of Kandhamal.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A new "brutal attack" in Orissa, which responds to a "diabolical plan": this is how Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), defines the violent assault committed by more than 50 Hindu ultranationalists against Evangelist Baidhare, the pastor of the Pentecostal Fellowship Prayer group, and 12 families of his community. The violence took place in the district of Balasore. According to the GCIC president, the attack "is meant to terrify the Christian minority. They want to repeat what happened in 2008, with the anti-Christian pogroms in the Kandhamal district." Confirming this hypothesis was the discovery of some handmade explosives in another district of the state.

On June 15, a group of Hindu nationalists attacked and seriously injured the Rev. Baidhar, 50, while he was returning home in the village of Mitrapur after a prayer service. The attackers left the minister on the ground, bleeding. Shortly after, some believers found him and took him to a local hospital to receive the necessary treatment.

When the Hindus found out that Rev. Baidhar had been rescued, about 50 of them attacked 12 Christian families, injuring 20 people, young and old, and attempted to rape a few girls. Not content with that, the attackers looted their homes. Following the attack, many members of these families vanished into thin air, and there has been no news of them since. The suspicion is that they are hiding in the jungle, as happened in 2008 in Kandhamal. Sajan George says that the GCIC in Bhubaneshwar only discovered what had happened on June 16, and immediately denounced the events to the police of Nilgiri.

A few days before, in the district of Puri (Orissa), the local police at Brahmagiri seized more than 50 homemade bombs and 12 charges of dynamite, hidden in a hut in the village of Gambhari. According to police, the explosives found would have been used to organize a new anti-Christian pogrom to take place a short time afterwards, similar to the attacks in Kandhamal in 2008.

Between December 2007 and August 2008, Hindu ultranationalists killed 93 people, burned and looted more than 6,500 homes, and destroyed over 350 churches and 45 schools. Because of the pogroms, in 2008 more than 50 thousand people, mostly Christians, were displaced. Today, there are still 10,000 refugees. The Church in Orissa has always initiated assistance and reconstruction programs, aimed at both Christians and Hindus.

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