Community News

Anti-Christian violence in Malkangiri, Orissa

New Delhi: Malkangiri area of Orissa is witnessing a spate of anti-Christian attacks. The Koya tribal Christians living in different villages in Malkangiri district have borne the brunt of a series of anti-Christian violence since 8 December, 2010. Over 10 attacks were recorded by the Malkangiri District Christian Manch (MDCM) in a space of one month. Christian women, some pregnant, as well as children were among those injured in the attacks on churches, reported Pastor Vijay Purusu of Bethel Church and president of the MDCM. The attacks began on 8 December in Katanpali village, when about 35 Hindu extremists stormed the house of Pastor Mark Markani and beat him up. Allegedly the attack was instigated by an extremist group belonging to the the RSS. Christians have suffered midnight raids on prayer meetings in which they have been beaten, reported Pastor Purusu, resulting in some Christians fleeing their homes and going into hiding. At least four families have left their village and have not returned due to extremist warnings, reported MDCM.

The Manch has met the District Collector and Superintendent of Police and a memorandum was also submitted to the state Chief Minister on 27 January. “Delayed action of the police and thin police force on duty aggravated the matter” reported a correspondent.

Speaking to EFI, the District Collector, Mr R.V Krishna, said that peace committees were set up in various villages and they have been very active. “The main cause of tension is due to the clashes between the cultural practices of the convert Christians and the local tribals. About 30 people who attacked the Christians were arrested in January,” he said.

However, according to local Christians, the peace committees have failed to restore peace in the region. In the latest incident in Murliguda, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Malkangiri town, about 60 assailants from the Hindu extremist RSS on 23 February damaged the eardrums of Bhadan Hontal and beat another Christian, Markari Soma, until he fell unconscious, according to a report by the MDCM.

According to the area church leaders, the growing attacks on Christians were a symptom of fear among the Hindu extremists that the Christians and Church are doing well in many fields which are misunderstood as an allurement to convert other faiths to Christianity.

Amid these anti-Christian incidents in the areas, on 16 February, R.V Krishna, the Malkangiri District Collector and a junior engineer, were kidnapped by Naxalites. R.V Krishna was finally released on 23 February. On 3 March, area Christian leaders again met the District Collector and he assured them that immediate action will be taken. In the meantime the persecuted Christians were sent some rice and essential items by the church and district administration. (EFI)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2011 on page no. 21

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