Christians hide in jungles as violence continues

Dimapur, December 31 (MExN): The district of Kandhamal in Orissa continues to see massive violence against Christians, informed the All India Christian Council (AICC), which has collected reports of 65 churches burned down, 600 Christian homes destroyed, hundreds of Christians forced to flee into forests to save their lives, and thousands homeless. Despite promises by state and central government leaders during meetings with AICC leaders, the violence which began on Christmas Eve is continuing, stated a press note from the AICC a major advocacy group coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations and lay leaders.

The AICC alleged that roads continue to be blocked by Hindutva fundamentalists and police curfews prevent fact finding teams from traveling. Confirmed reports from one village give a sense of the carnage which is likely being under-reported. In Barkhama, a village near Baliguda in Kandhamal district, three pastors emerged after hiding in the jungle for five days and reported that over 100 Christian homes destroyed, two Christians killed and burnt in front of the local church and another murdered in a market on Christmas Eve besides at least fifteen Christians missing and suspected to be killed and buried in the nearby forest.

An AICC fact finding team headed by John Dayal, AICC Secretary-General and Member of the National Integration Council, has been unable to reach the hardest hit areas due to police curfews, it was informed. Int may be mentioned that on December 29 Inspector General of Police Pradeep Kapur forced the team to leave the affected areas due to safety concerns. Efforts by a Christian delegation to visit Baminigaon, called the epicentre of the trouble, were unsuccessful as well.