11/06/2008, 00.00
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Curfew imposed again in Orissa after Hindu activist is killed

by Nirmala Carvalho
The dead man led anti-Christian attacks in December 2007 in Kandhamal district. Maoist groups are suspected in his death but Christians fear a new wave of violence.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – A Hindu activist was killed by three individuals in the village of Kumharigaon, Kandhamal district (Orissa). The victim, Dhanu Pradhan, was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu fundamentalist group that is part of the Sangh Parivar and that has been responsible for anti-Christian violence that broke out two months ago in the same district. At the time of his death the small time contractor was visiting the almost entirely Christian village to inspect a school under construction when three men shot and killed him. According to police Dhanu Pradhan was on a Maoist hit list.

In the state the latest wave in anti-Christian violence began with the death of Swami Laxamananada Saraswati, a radical Hindu leader who was killed last 23 August. He too was assassinated by a group of Maoist militants but the Sangh Parivar immediately blamed Christians, thus provoking what amounts to an actual pogrom. Christians now fear that the new murder will lead to a new wave of violence.

Fr Dibya Singh, a spokesman for the diocese of Cuttack- Bhubaneshwar, spoke to AsiaNews about his concerns. He explained that a “curfew has been imposed again and panic is spreading across the district. Our only hope is that vested interests and outside elements do not foment trouble for the vulnerable Christian community in Kandhamal district. The situation is so volatile that they may use any occasions to create havoc in the area given their focused goal of eliminating Christianity from Kandhamal.”

Dhanu Pradhan was one of the leaders who spearheaded violence by Hindu radicals in Kandhamal district last December when, on Christmas Eve, Sangha Parivar extremist groups attacked and set on fire 13 churches, hundreds of Christian-owned homes and killed three people.

Orissa is a state where Hindu nationalist fundamentalism is very strong. In 1968 the state legislature adopted an anti-conversion law that blocks Christian missions.

In 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two children were burnt to death in their car. Also in 1999 a Catholic priest, Fr Arul Doss, was killed in the same state.

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See also
Orissa government cuts death toll from anti-Christian pogrom
Orissa: burning and looting continues, Christians beaten and cut to pieces
Hindu extremists slander the Church but send their children to Church-run schools
Supreme Court upholds life sentence for killer of two missionaries
What Indian Christians can hope from these elections


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