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    » 12/27/2007, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa: fundamentalists attack Mother Teresa’s missionaries over night

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Sisters and their priest have to flee into the forest. Curfew remains in place. VHP celebrates the return to Hinduism of 187 people. A rally against the violence is set for today in New Delhi.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Anti-Christian violence in Orissa continues. A house belonging to the Missionaries of Charity, the male branch of Mother Teresa’s order, was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists in Kandhamal. Violence was visited upon Brother Sadasananda and a local Mother Teresa Shanti Niwas (peaceful abode). The same happened to the Saint Joseph of Annecy convent of Sisters. Despite a curfew the attack took place in the middle of the night. The sisters and the priest living at the mission fled and are hiding in the forest that surrounds the area. In India’s capital Christians of every denomination have organised a big protest march against the violence in Orissa.

    Since Christmas Eve, a “strike” called by the Viśva Hindū Pariad (VHP), a Hindu fundamentalist organisation known for its violence, has caused death and destruction, including churches, convents, homes and Christian-owned stores.

    In a press release the Global Council of Indian Churches (GCIC), an advocacy group operating in Orissa, reported that “300 houses belonging to Christians were burnt down in Barakamal and three believers were burnt alive.”

    A curfew remains in place in four locations affected by violence. They are Baliguda, Daringibadi, Brahmanigaon and Phulbani. But Home Secretary T K Mishra said that the situation was under control despite some sporadic violence during the day and overnight.

    GCIC National President Sajan George told AsiaNews that “the Sangh Parivar radicals tried to kill Pastor Bikay Charan Sethi in Bamunigam. He sustained 50 per cent burns after they threw a petrol bomb at him.”

    Meanwhile violence is spreading to other districts in the area, including Boudh, Gajapati, Koraput and Kalahandi.

    The VHP launched its violent onslaught claiming it wants to stop conversions to Christianity, accusing Churches of proselytising. On Christmas Day it celebrated for instance the “return” (barbaratan or ‘coming home’) to Hinduism of 82 families or 187 Christians, 103 men and 84 women, at a ceremony in the village of Chikita in Sundergarth District (Orissa) that included receiving images of Hindu divinities. Some elected state officials attended the ceremony.

    Since December 24 VHP groups have attacked at least 20 Christian institutions in the state. Its wave of violence has led to the destruction of 18 churches and chapels, four convents, eight hostels, and 15 Christian-owned stores.

    A rally open to all to protest against the anti-Christian violence has been called for today between 4 and 6 pm in New Delhi. Former Indian Prime Minister VP Singh, the Archbishop of Delhi Mgr Vincent Concessao and the Chairman of the All India Catholic Council John Dayal will be present as will be representatives from many more human rights organisations.

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    See also

    27/09/2008 INDIA
    Kandhamal, Hindu fanatics burn down house of sisters of Mother Teresa
    On the evening of September 25, fundamentalists attacked and burned down the house of the Missionaries of Charity in the village of Sukananda. Sister M. Suma, the regional superior, prays for the "persecutors", that they may repent of their violence and "make peace with God" for their actions.

    12/09/2008 INDIA
    Police gag order silences Sisters of Mother Teresa
    Nuns are accused of abducting and converting children, but they regain custody after accusations are shown to be false. Sangh Parivar, which accuses them of “child trafficking,” plans a demonstration against the nuns for tomorrow. Insecurity spreads to the state of Karnataka where three Pentecostal churches are shut down despite having all the right papers.

    16/06/2008 INDIA
    Date set for the first audience into anti-Christian violence in Orissa
    The first audience will be on 14 July to hear the victims of last Christmas assaults. Getting people to testify is difficult because of ongoing intimidation and the psychological effects of the traumatic experience. The tireless work by the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity continues in order to “rebuild hope” among survivors.

    09/05/2008 INDIA
    Orissa, the sisters of Mother Teresa return: we must bring smiles back to the persecuted
    A delegation of the Missionaries of Charity has returned to the district of Khandamal, where anti-Christian persecution broke out last Christmas. They tell AsiaNews about the mistrust of Christians toward Hindus, and insist on the importance of reconciliation.

    16/04/2009 VATICAN
    Birthday greetings for pope from sisters of Mother Teresa in Orissa
    "At these times, more than ever, during the various sufferings and injustices, the Missionaries of Charity reassure our beloved Pope Benedict that he continues to be a voice that is listened to." Greetings for Benedict XVI from all over the world. A unique initiative in France.



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