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Pogrom Against Christians In Orissa

By John Dayal & Shabnam Hashmi

28 August, 2008

There is a progom being carried out against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa for the last four days by right wing hindu organisations led by Viswa Hindu Parishat (VHP) and the Rashtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) . At least 15 persons have lost their lives. One woman was burnt alive. Hundreds of churches torched. Priests and nuns beaten up, thousands of them now hiding in the forests of Orissa. The saddest part is that this is being carried out with the full connivance of the state police.

Orissa is the same state where the Australian missionary Graham Stains along with his two sons were burnt alive in 1999.

Here we are producing two letters written by concerned citizens to Sonia Gandhi, Chair Person of UPA, the ruling coalition of India and to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

28 August 2008

Honourable Mrs Sonia Gandhi
Congress President and Chairperson, UPA
10 Janpath, New Delhi

Respected Madam


Re: Call to end ethnic cleansing of Christians in Orissa

I am writing this to bring to your notice the utter failure of the Government of Orissa to bring a halt to the killing of Christians, the destruction of their properties and the persecution of their Church in the state in general, and in the district of Kandhamal in particular.

Although the Orissa government is a coalition of the Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is the BJP which is running the show and has complete control of the government, the police and the relief and rehabilitation ministries. The government has also given full freedom to the RSS, the VHP to carry on their aggression on the Christian community.

I would like to point out that the Christian community has unequivocally denounced the murder of VHP vice president Lakshmananada Saraswati who was killed in Kandhamal some days ago, reportedly by Maoist groups. The state government failed thrice. They failed in December 2007 to protect Christians from VHP and RSS violence in which more then 100 churches were destroyed and thousands rendered homeless. They failed again this time when about 30 Christians have been killed, a nun gang raped, another woman burnt alive, many priests grievously injured and hundreds of houses burnt. I am attaching herewith the list of persons killed, injured and destruction of Churches in the last four days.

There is urgent need to restore peace, to stop the targeting and persecution of Christians which is tantamount to the Ethnic Cleansing of Christians from Orissa. VHP and its leaders like Praveen Togadia have openly said is their avowed target

We request that:

1. The Union Government must authorise the Army to move its troops into affected blocks of Kandhamal district where the local police and RAF have failed miserably.

2. The Centre must order a CBI enquiry into the murder of the VHP leader, and the ensuing violence to trace the guilty in both cases.

3. Urgent compensation to the kin of the dead and the injured, relief and rehabilitation must be taken so that the tens of thousands of Christians now hiding in the forest of Kandhamal and other districts can return home. Government must rebuild their house and also rebuild every single church that has been destroyed.

Dear Madam, it is the fair name of India that is being tarnished in this anti Christian violence. The Union Government has to act, and it has to make the State Government to wake up to its constitutional responsibilities.

I am sure you will advice the Union government and request the Prime Minister to do whatever is necessary in this regard.

Thanking you
Yours faithfully

Dr John Dayal


The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India

Dear Dr Manmohan Singh,

Gujarat 2002 is being repeated in Orissa right now. The minority under attack has changed from the Muslim to the Christian. The perpetrators remain the same. The Vishva Hindu Parishad and various other Sangh outfits.

Knowing their track record of violence from earlier in Orissa as well as in other parts of the country there is nothing which could not be foreseen. The kind of violence and mayhem which they have done in the past and which they are capable of organising is an open secret. Every Bandh call given by the VHP, RSS and the whole Sangh combine has always resulted in large scale violence any where in the country.

Every time a new excuse is created and used by the Sangh outfits as a reason to attack either the Muslims or the Christians. Sangh is a past master in creating enough reasons to attack the minorities is an established fact.

The Sangh is wreaking havoc in Orissa. Schools, orphanages, churches are being attacked, damaged, vandalised. Pastors and priests are being killed and nuns raped and set ablaze. Properties of hundreds of Christians have been burnt down, looted, vandalised. People are hiding in the forest and are witnessing their homes and businesses being burnt. Smoke is rising from all over.

We are witnessing on one hand total failure of the government machinery to control the violent Sangh outfits on the other hand we are witnessing the connivance to save the Sangh. Every past incident has seen the minorities being attacked by the Sangh and then all the cases being filed against the minorities. There is a conspiracy of silence by the government on how minorities are being hounded in India. Golwalker's agenda of reducing the minorities to second class citizens in this country is in full swing and everyone is partnering in this agenda. Hundreds of innocent people are being picked up, tortured in the name of fighting terrorism.

I am writing to you with the request to intervene immediately, deploy enough central forces to stop the mayhem and violence in Orissa.

With regards

Shabnam Hashmi
Social Activist


On 02 November, 2003, Countercurrents carried a prophetic article by Angana Chatterji "Orissa: A Gujarat In The making". You can read that article here.

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