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Government blamed for violence: CEN 1.18.08 p 7. January 18, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Civil Rights, Persecution.
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The government of Orissa State is complicit in the Christmas week pogrom of Christians in Northeast India, the Church of North India has charged.

The government condoned, and in some cases supported the campaign of “bigotry, the ideology of hate and violence” that swept across the Diocese of Phulbani for five days beginning Dec 22, the General Secretary of the Church of North India, the Rev. Enos Das Pradhan said in a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper.

“The destruction and desecration of churches and burning of houses of the innocent people are outrageous and violates any norm of civic societies,” and was accompanied by the “utter collapse of the law and order machinery,” he said last week.

The violence against Christians was “premeditated, pre planned and the work of a well disciplined group to ensure simultaneous eruption across the Kandhamal district within hours of the first incident, and to sustain it for five days despite the presence of the highest police officers in the region,” Mr. Das Pradhan said.

Results of a fact finding mission led by the Bishop of Phulbani, the Rt. Rev. Bijay Kumar Nayak found that 16 churches in the CNI’s Balliguda and Udayagiri deaneries were destroyed. Over 3000 Christians are sheltering in relief camps, while “out of fear, some are in the jungle, some are out of the district and some are missing. The situation is still critical,” he said.

Of the 650,000 people living in Kandhamal district, about 100,000 are Christian.

An investigation by the All-India Christian Council (AICC) found that 95 churches were attacked and the homes of 730 Christian families destroyed by Hindu extremists affiliated with the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) during the five days of sectarian violence.

“We are saddened to acknowledge the violence in Orissa will go into the history books as an unprecedented attack on Christians in India. The tragedy is deepened by proof that the violence was avoidable if the authorities had enforced the rule of law,” said AICC President Dr Joseph D’Souza.

The CNI urged “the Union and the State Governments and the National Commission for Minorities to deploy adequate [security] Forces in the troubled areas of Kandhamal and Phulbani District as the people are living in anxiety and fear.”

Mr. Das Pradhan asked Anglicans in Britain to pray for Bishop Nayak and “the members of the Diocese of Phulbani that they may stand firm and remain true to their faith and keep witnessing through their lives at this hour of oppression and atrocities.”

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