New Maoist faction threatens to kill Christians*

New Delhi: After a violence-free Christmas in the eastern state of Orissa, a new, worrisome development has emerged. Some Hindu members of a Maoist (banned, extreme Marxist) group, which was allegedly behind the killing of a Hindu nationalist leader in August that sparked an unprecedented spate of anti-Christian attacks in the state, have reportedly formed a new rival group to target Christians.
According to the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), a breakaway faction of the Communist Party of India-Maoist has put up posters threatening to target Christian members in the state, saying it would kill a Christian on the 23rd of every month – to avenge the assassination of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a leader of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) on August 23 in Orissa’s Kandhamal district.
The rival group, known as the Idealize of Democrat Garila (Guerrilla) Army (Maoist) or IDGA-Maoist, will be formally inaugurated on January 3 “at an undisclosed location under the leadership of a guerrilla identified only as M2”.
“People familiar with the Maoist movement in the state believe that the split will result in escalation of violence,” said the news agency. The objective of the splinter group would be “to protect Hindus from Maoist attacks and retaliate by killing Christian leaders” in the state, Nihar Nayak, an expert on Maoists at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, was quoted as saying.
“It is certain that violence will escalate and this split is going to be a major headache for the already burdened police force,” IANS reported an anonymous senior police officer as saying.
The wave of violent attacks that followed the murder of Saraswati and four of his disciples in August carried on unabated for more than two months. At least 4,500 houses and churches were burned down or damaged and more than 100 killed in the Kandhamal district.
*By Vishal Arora

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