Orissa, 12 houses razed to the ground, belonging to Christians of Kandhamal
by Nirmala Carvalho
The authorities of the village of Raikia demolished the houses, belonging to tribal Christians in the community. The official explanation: the houses stood near a road to be expanded. In reality, a wealthy landowner has allegedly corrupted the officials, to take possession of the land.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The local authorities of the village of Raikia (Kandhamal district, Orissa) have demolished 12 houses belonging to Christian families in the area. According to the official explanation, the administration needed the land on which the houses stood to widen the street. In reality, a wealthy landowner has allegedly put pressure on the administration of the district, to take possession of the area. The incident occurred on December 12, but the news has spread only in recent days.

At 11:00 am, local officials and police reached the main road of Raikia, 300 meters from where the houses were located. Shortly after, a bulldozer began the demolition. One of the tenants, Niranjan Samal, a school inspector, tried to protest. The agents arrested him, then had his house demolished. In total, three homes were destroyed, while another nine were partially destroyed.

Sandip Nayak, one of the Christians affected, said: "My mother was served a notice to vacate the house on December 6, because it was on land owned by the government. But she and the other elders have always paid the rent on a regular basis, for years." According to the young man, the need to widen the road is just an excuse, to hide the hand of Piklu Sabat, a rich entrepreneur of Raikia. In fact, he owns the land behind the houses, and in the past had already tried to buy the homes by offering money to the families. They refused, and the man allegedly corrupted the local officials.

"By depriving the Christians of a roof", accuses Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "the Raikia government has created a new Bethlehem. As Jesus was born in a manger, so these women and children will spend Christmas in the cold, in extreme poverty, abandoned by their own administration."