EFI News Persecution Watch: Anti-Christian Violence Erupts in Malkangiri, Orissa

General March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

EFI expresses deep concern over the spate of anti- Christian attacks launched against the tribal Christians in Malkangiri, Orissa and appeals to the government to take appropriate and urgent action.

The Koya tribal Christians living in different villages in Malkangiri district have borne the brunt of a series of anti- Christian’s violence since 8 December, 2010. Over 10 attacks were recorded by the Malkangiri District Christian Manch (MDCM) in a space of one month.

Christian women, some pregnant, as well as children were among those injured in the attacks on churches, reported Pastor Vijay Purusu of Bethel Church and president of the MDCM. The spate of attacks began on 8 December in Katanpali village, when about 35 Hindu extremists stormed the house of Pastor Mark Markani and beat him. It was alleged that the attack was instigated by the extremist group from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Christians have suffered midnight raids on prayer meetings in which they have been beaten, reported Pastor Purusu, resulting in some Christians fleeing their homes and going into hiding. At least four families have left their village and not returned due to extremist warnings, reported the Malkangiri District Christian Manch (MDCM).

The Manch has met with the District Collector and Superintendent of Police and a memorandum was also submitted to the state Chief Minister on 27 January. "Delayed action of the police and less police force on duty aggravated the matter" reported our correspondent.

Speaking to EFI, the District Collector, Mr R.V Krishna, said that peace committees were set up in various villages and they have been very active. "The main cause of tension is due to the clashes between the cultural practices of the convert Christians and the local tribal. About 30 people who attacked the Christians were arrested in January," he added.

However, according to local Christians, the peace committees have failed to restore peace in the region. In the latest incident in Murliguda, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Malkangiri town, about 60 assailants from the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on 23 February damaged the eardrums of Bhadan Hontal and beat another Christian, Markari Soma, until he fell unconscious, according to a report by the MDCM.

According to the area church leaders, the growing attacks on Christians were a symptom of fear among the Hindu extremists that the Christians and Church are doing well in many fields. The Christians' social and educational ministries have been misunderstood as an allurement to convert other faith to Christianity.

Amid these anti-Christian incidents in the areas, on 16 February, R.V Krishna the Malkangiri District Collector and a junior engineer were kidnapped by Naxalites. R.V Krishna was finally released on 23 February.

On 3 March, area Christian leaders again met the District Collector and he assured them that immediate action will be taken. In the meantime the persecuted Christians were sent some rice and essential items by the church and district administration.

Issued By:
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India

Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations