Hindus force Christians to flee Indian village

Police in Odisha state in eastern India filed an initial information report after Hindus attacked Christian families for their faith and excommunicated them from their villages.

A radical group destroyed Christian homes in Sikapai village in Rayagada district and drove them out of the village on June 8, according to Father Purushottam Nayak, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

The Christians live in a thatched-roof house in a nearby forest, he said.

“The Christians have filed a report with the Kalyansingpur police station and it is under investigation. The village is dominated by 32 Hindu families and there are only eight Christian families, ”Father Nayak told UCA News on June 10.

He quoted Pastor Upajukta Singh as saying that the radical group could not tolerate the presence of Christian families in Sikapai and was jealous of their progress.

Pastor Singh said Hindus have already humiliated some Christian women when they go to fetch water. They even broke the bore well, forcing the women to go home empty-handed.

Cycles of violence and hatred in Rayagada are worrying signs of bigotry

“Despite the threats, Christians here are still steadfast in their faith and have practiced Christianity for 14 years,” he said.

Nori Konjaka, one of the Christians of Sikapai, said that “the attackers can destroy our homes but not our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Sajan K. George, president of the World Council of Indian Christians, told UCA News that the Rayagada district is a new melting pot for experiencing anti-Christian violence.

“The cycles of violence and hatred in Rayagada are worrying signs of bigotry. We urge the Chief Minister of Odisha to take visible action to combat the lumpen elements in our society for the safety and security of all sections of society, ”said the Christian lay leader.

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George said anti-Christian violence was not new to Odisha.

One of the worst anti-Christian riots began on August 23, 2008, after Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was gunned down while Hindus were celebrating Janmashtami or the birth of Lord Krishna.

Hindu radicals have turned to Christian targets after describing the murder as a Christian conspiracy. The violence that lasted for seven weeks killed around 100 people, left 56,000 homeless and destroyed 6,000 homes and 300 churches.

Shortly after the murder, four Christians, including an illiterate 13-year-old boy, were arrested by Hindu activists, beaten and thrown into police stations. It was not the police but Praveen Togadia, the leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who made their names public and accused them of killing the Swami.

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Christina A. Kroll

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