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    » 10/08/2011, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa: Hindu extremists plant a flag on the rubble of a church under reconstruction

    Nirmala Carvalho

    The place of worship was destroyed in 2008, during the pogrom against Christians that caused hundreds of dead. The local community had recovered materials to rebuild the building. The fundamentalists, with the connivance of police and government want to seize the land. Indian activist: government "sympathizes" with the extremist wing.
    Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The government is"sympathetic to the Hindu extremist wing " and does not intervene to quell "provocations" against Christians in Orissa, denounces Indian activist Sajan K. George to AsiaNews, commenting on the last episode against the religious minority: October 6 last more than 400 Hindu fanatics planted a saffron flag - the official symbol of Hinduism – on the rubble of a Catholic church, destroyed during the anti-Christian pogroms of 2008. According to police, the flag was removed by unknown persons last night. However, tension remains high in the area and there is an creeping sense of increasing hopelessness and abandonment among Christians, ignored by government and law enforcement.

    In recent weeks the Christian community had accumulated building materials to rebuild the parish church of Raikia in the village of Bakingia, Kandhamal district, belonging to the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Orissa (eastern India). The building was destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists in 2008, during the anti-Christian violence that caused hundreds of casualties. On October 6, Vijaya Dashami festival for the Hindu community, which is celebrating these days the festival of the goddess Durga, hundreds of extremists planted the saffron flag. The area, according to their leader Bhaskar Pradha, belonged to their ancestors.

    Despite the protests of the Christian minority, which turned to local government authorities and the police, no one intervened to remove the banner from the site where the local parish church once stood. Local sources report that last night, someone removed the Hindu symbol, but the tension between the two communities remains high so much so that the area is guarded by dozens of police. Archbishop John Barwa, of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, immediately informed the head of the district Rajesh Patil. In response, he advised the Catholic leaders to send a letter of protest to the police. Yesterday a group of 15 people, led by parish priest Fr Probodh Kumar Pradhan, filed an appropriate complaint, but so far the police have not taken any measures. Administrators and police have also called for a meeting between Christian and Hindu leaders to settle the matter, but so far they have not confirmed an official summit.

    Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Pradhan describes the "failure of government authorities" who are not able to control the situation. The reaction of Indian activist Sajan K George, president of Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) is even harsher who states that "the government's deafening silence is a source of fear and anxiety among Christians." He confirms that "the police who intervened in the affair did not take any measures", while in recent days "the local government had ordered a halt to the reconstruction of the Catholic Church." Local authorities, adds Sajan George, are conniving with the Hindu extremists because they "do not take action" against those who are "deliberately causing problems".

    (Santosh Digal collaborated)

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    See also

    18/01/2011 INDIA
    Orissa: police claim pastor killed by extremists, drowned. Village revolts
    An autopsy on the body of Saul Pradhan was published today clearing the two Hindu extremists accused of his murder. Family members are threatening protests and call for new examination. Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar invites all Christians in the village to gather evidence against the two killers.

    29/09/2011 INDIA
    Andhra Pradesh, eight Pentecostal Christians arrested for praying in the street
    One hundred activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a Hindu ultra-nationalist group) accused them of forced conversions, then led the police to arrest them. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "No let up for Christians, the system is corrupt." Today in Orissa a march to commemorate the anti-Christian violence of 2008.

    09/11/2010 INDIA
    The daily persecution of Orissa’s Christians
    Forced conversions, prohibition of buying goods in shops, the faithful have to live in half-ruined houses without roofs and dirt floors: in In Kandhamal violence against Christians is "normal". The authorities do not intervene. The report of a special fact-finding group.

    12/01/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: insecurity and hatred await Christians forced out of refugee camps
    The government closes down camps, handing out paltry sums to refugees. After being forced to return to their destroyed homes, the latter must live side-by-side with their persecutors. Back home they are refused employment, even day work, whilst store owners refuse to sell them any supplies.

    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.



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