Anti-Christian Violence Last FIVE Months*

1. ORISSA: Ten years after the Christmas violence in the Dangs district of Gujarat in 1998, and the burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines, on 22 January 1999, in Orissa, anti-Christian violence has not just grown in the two regions, but has spread to other states such as Karnataka. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka, in fact, has now surpassed Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, which were earlier the main areas witnessing persecution.
In Orissa, where violence broke out between 24 to 27 December 2007 and then again between 24 August 2008 till the end of the year, a chilling tension still pervades the worst affected district of Kandhamal. And in government camps in G Udaygiri and Raikia in Kandhamal, more than Eight Thousand refugees live a life of torment, humiliation and unemployment. The un-totaled thousands in small and big Church-run camps outside Kandhamal and even deep in Andhra Pradesh that have little coordination with each other, people face an uncertain future. And perhaps 30,000 people still escape to the forests every night to sleep the night in the safety of raw nature, for fear of the marauding gangs. During sunlight hours, they attempt to harvest the paddy crop in the safer areas. Christian and Civil Society groups tried unsuccessfully to move the Courts to stop a government move to forcibly send back people from refugee camps back to distant villages without providing adequate security and employment. The Central Reserve Police Force has begun to thin out from its peak strength of 6,000 on the eve of Christmas, despite earnest requests to government to maintain sufficient numbers to bring confidence to the battered people. Criminal Investigation Department police are making some headway in the investigations in the rape of the Catholic nun, and that of another woman, a Hindu brutalized because her uncle had converted to Christianity. But police also admit that they will have to “trim” the list of about 70,000 persons named as aggressors in over in 746 cases to manageable numbers. The new Director General of Police feels that in each case only a clutch of principal accused can be investigated. So far 598 accused have been actually arrested. Christians have told investigators that many of the aggressors are still roaming free, and some murder suspects have even come to the government refugee camps. The death toll remains a matter of dispute. Human rights groups have a total of 120 names of persons of whom 103 are confirmed dead, and 17 are those whose names are not known, but are known only by their relationship with some villagers. Though there have been several other incidents in Orissa in December and mid January 2009, they have not been directly linked with the earlier sequence of violence. Reconstruction of the houses is yet to begin, and churches await the government assistance promised them by the Government after the intervention of the Supreme Court of India. A brief recall of major persecution:
ORISSA:
14 (of 30) Districts hit
315 Villages destroyed
4,640 Houses burnt [State government estimates 4,215]
54,000 homeless initially
120 People murdered
7 Priests/ Pastors killed 10 Fathers/Pastors/Nuns injured
2 Rapes confirmed [One of Nun]
252 Churches destroyed [estimated by State government]
13 Schools, colleges destroyed

2. KARNATAKA
8 (of 29) Districts affected
33 Churches attacked update again
53 Christians injured in attacks, including Nuns assaulted by state police.

3. TAMIL NADU
12 Churches attacked

4. MADHYA PRADESH
5 Churches damaged

5. KERALA
4 Churches damaged

6. DELHI
2 Churches damaged/destroyed

[Updated 20th January 2009. This update does not include incidents of violence and persecution witnessed in many other states, but not linked with the August 2008 outbreak.] *By John Dayal

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