Four Christian relief workers were beaten, threatened and then arrested in Orissa on Tuesday, November 4. The World Evangelical Alliance says the four were arrested under “forced conversion” charges.
The workers were on their way to the Discipleship Centre which focuses on holistic care, education, health care and similar disaster relief projects when an unknown motorist collided with one of their motorbikes, causing minor injuries to the worker.
A crowd gathered around the scene, quickly turning into a group of 400. The mob beat the DC staff members, threatening to set fire to them at a local cremation centre. Included in the mob were two Hindu groups that had already been protesting against what they perceived to be forced conversions from local Christians.
When police arrived, the workers were arrested for supposedly forcing Christian conversions and causing the motorbike accident. The four are currently in the custody of Orissa police.
|Open Doors has responded quickly to support Christian victims of Hindu extremist violence in the state of Orissa , India, while also putting together a long-term plan through 2009.
In the last two months approximately 5,000 Christian homes have been burned or destroyed, 200 churches destroyed and around 50 people have been killed and hundreds of believers injured in various attacks. Another report said 500 people, mostly Christian, might have been killed in the past few months’ violence in Kandhamal district. Also, an estimated 50,000 Christians have been displaced by the violence.
Christian leaders are concerned with the unsanitary c conditions of the refugee camps and people dying due to inadequate facilities.
Dr. John Dayal, member of the National Integration Council, told Compass Direct News that the chief minister of Orissa admitted that at least 10,000 people are still in government-run refugee camps, and that tens of thousands are in the forests or have migrated to towns outside Kandhamal.
“The government has admitted 40 dead, though we have details of 59 men and women mercilessly killed in the seven weeks of unabated mayhem,” he said. “For us, peace would be when the last refugee is back in his home, secure in his faith, with a livelihood restored, his children’s future secured as it should be in a secular India.”
|Christians who have been persecuted by Hindu militants in 12 Indian states could face more bloodshed after another Hindu activist, Rashtriya Swayamsevak, was reportedly shot dead by Maoists this week.
India’s Communist Party estimates that more than 500 Christians have been killed by Hindu mobs in Orissa, 12 times more than official government claims of only 40 homicides. One official said he personally authorized “cremation of more than 200 bodies” found in jungles after Christians were blamed for the death of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 24. They continue to be persecuted even though Maoists openly admitted to murdering Saraswati.
According to the Communist Party report, Hindu extremists may have used government machinery to “minimize the evidence and possibly destroy dead bodies.”
Thousands of homes and churches have been destroyed, and tens of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee the violence. Mission Network News estimates 5,000 Christian homes have been burned, 200 churches ruined, 10,000 people remain in government-operated refugee camps, and tens of thousands are living in forests – many seriously wounded.