ASIA/INDIA - Violence against Christians in Orissa: for the Bishop "the government should act"

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Balasore (Agenzia Fides) - "Violence still strikes Christians in Orissa. Very often those responsible are Hindu fundamentalist groups who do not look kindly upon Christians. As a Church we are insisting with the government to ensure the safety and security of Christian faith citizens ": with these words His Exc. Mgr. Thomas Thiruthalil, C.M., Bishop of Balasore and President of the Episcopal Conference in Orissa, comments to Fides Agency the two recent episodes that confirm the suffering of the Christian community in Orissa: the death of a Protestant Christian Pastor and the rape of a nun.
Pointing out that they are waiting for the investigations in order to be certain of the authors and mode of violence, the Bishop says: "Violence is always reprehensible. Christians are victims because often accused of trying to convert the population. The fact is that our people are vulnerable and defenseless. The government should ensure that rules are respected. This is our first point of action. Secondly, as a Church we dialogue with all sections of society and especially with Hindus, to make them understand that Christians want only peace and harmony".
As reported to Fides by the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, a 28-year-old nun, from Kandhamal district was kidnapped and raped by several men, for about a week, between 5 and 11 July.
The incident happened in the Bamunigam, 250 kilometers south of Bhubaneswar. The nun, who was attending university in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, was coming back to Orissa because her mother was seriously ill. She was taken by some cousins and friends who then kidnapped and raped her. According to preliminary investigations the cause may be revenge within the family because the nun’s cousins’ father was killed last year by insurgents, (perhaps Maoist). The Bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar condemned the "outrageous violence" and in a message to Fides has called for justice. Fr. Dibyasingh Parichha, priest and lawyer in Kandhamal district, told Fides that the Church is providing legal and psychological support to the victim.
Another episode that has aroused skepticism and suspicion is the death of a Protestant Pastor, a doctor and missionary of the "Blessing Youth Mission". Dr. Jaishankar, 45, was found dead on July 14 in a river near Jeypore in Orissa. He had been missing since July 11, while he was traveling from Jeypore to Lamtaput. According to preliminary reports, the moped on which he was traveling may have been swept away by a flood, while crossing a bridge over the river. It must be said that the area is infested by Naxalites rebels and the police do not exclude that they may be responsible for the death, given some signs present on the corpse. The Pastor lived in Bhopal with his family. He leaves his wife Florence and two daughters aged 15 and 7 years old. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/07/2013)