05/02/2014, 00.00
INDIA

Ostracised, Christians in Orissa again see their homes destroyed and water wells poisoned

by Nirmala Carvalho
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), describes the situation in some of the remotest villages in the Indian state. For some of the victims, recent events are a repeat of the bloody anti-Christian pogroms of 2008 by Hindu extremists.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Daily life is becoming a nightmare again for many Christian communities in the state of Orissa (Odisha), scene of the worst anti-Christian pogrom in India's history in 2008, this according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). In some parts of the state, many Christian families have seen their newly-rebuilt homes destroyed. Many of them have also been driven out of their villages, forced to give up water, property, and other essentials.

George, who spoke to AsiaNews about new acts of "intimidation and persecution against Christians," said that the situation has been "made worst by the complicity of local police and administrators." One of the latest episodes occurred during the week before Easter in the village of Budruka.

Here, a local Christian, Praful Digal, had his house destroyed by a fire set by a group of Hindu extremists. His original home had been destroyed during the violence of 2008. Later, with government compensation money, he was able to rebuild. Now he lost it again.

After he and his family filed a complaint with the local police, Sudershan Mallick, Mallick and Pabitra Mallik Nageswar were arrested in connection with the fire. However, on 25 April, the three were released.

Things are even worse for three Dalit Christian families - Manasida Barla, Masid das Lugun, and Lodha Barla - and their 16 members. They live in an area inhabited by tribal people where Naxalite (Maoist) insurgents are very active.

In the name of religion, they were driven out of their village by the hundred or so Hindu families that live there. The latter also took away what they had "because they were believers and followers of Christ."

The neighbours threw garbage and other waste in the well used by the Christian families in order to deny them water; they also banned them from mixing and speaking with other residents, or take part in any community programmes and initiatives.

"In addition to this kind of torture, some Hindu extremists are threatening to strike the families' names off a government list for land allotment, to seize the land they already own and tear down their homes," Sajan George said.

"How will these families survive without water, now that hot weather is approaching with temperatures that can reach the mid-40s Celsius.

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