10/25/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Signs of peace between Hindus and Christians in Kandhamal thanks to Church

by Santosh Digal
In the village of Bodimunda, Hindu merchants and taxi drivers would refuse Christian customers for fear of penalties. Now Christians are no longer ostracised. In Dodobali, five Christian families were able to rebuild their homes and are now represented on the village council.

Phulbani (AsiaNews) - Not all Christians in Kandhamal District (Orissa) are experiencing attacks and violence from Hindu nationalists; some have begun enjoying a renewed sense of peace and harmony. This is in large measure the result of actions taken by the Catholic Church in the wake of the 2008 pogroms. For the past few years, the Church has helped victims rebuild their lives and homes, and counter a harsh, Hindu-led anti-Christian boycott.

This is the case of the village of Bodimunda, which is located in the Tikabali block, a place where anti-Christian persecution continued well after the pogroms, until 2011. Members of the Mary, Mother of God Parish in Sukananda said that after 2008 they were completely isolated from the wider community. Hindu merchants who accepted Christian customers would be fined. The same was the case for taxi drivers. If a farmer carried on his tractor materials owned by a Christian he too would be penalised.

"After two years of intense prayers and dialogue, now the situation has changed," said Montfort missionary Br KJ Markose, as he spoke to AsiaNews. Indeed, "Christians took part in the latest Panchayati Raj (assembly) elections, and are involved in all of the community's civic and political activities," he added.

Dodobali village, in K Nuagam block, is another success story. Five Christian families live there. "During the violence in 2008, their homes were burnt to the ground," the missionary explained. "One woman was killed and the rest fled. Even after the pogroms, the families could not image coming back to the village. They were scared to death."

Now, through the work of the local Church, these people were able to return to Dodobali and rebuild their homes. They are also involved in the 'gram sabha,' the local village council and all local community activities.

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