Christians rebuilding their lives after last month's campaign of religious violence in Orissa are being ordered to convert to Hinduism, leave the area or die, according to a Catholic archbishop, writes Anto Akkara.
'The situation is getting really bad,'Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said by telephone from his office in Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern state. 'Many Christians and their families are being singled out and threatened these days. ‘If you want to live here, be Hindus or get out of here. Otherwise, we will kill you,' is what they are being told,' Archbishop Cheenath said.
Thousands of Christians fled their homes and four Christians were killed in almost two weeks of violent attacks. Dozens of churches and institutions and around 600 homes were looted and burned. The Catholic Church bore the brunt of the violence, losing 55 village churches, five convents, three presbyteries, six hostels, two seminaries and a dispensary.
Christians make up a fifth of the 500,000-population of Kandhamal district, and half the Christians are Catholic. But the archbishop said the state officials and police repeatedly advised him not to visit his troubled pastoral area, because the situation was 'volatile'. Earlier this month Archbishop Cheenath said officials had denied churchgoers permission to take aid to people who had taken shelter in the jungle. Churches made.
Friday, January 25, 2008
The Christians face death threats in India
In the world's largest democracy. From this week's Tablet