September 29, 2008, New Delhi: Sit in dharna organized to protest against the on-going violence against Christians in Orissa and other parts of India, entered into its 4th day with leaders of the different communities of the society supporting the cause.
Leaders of the Banjara and Lodhi samaj condemned the attacks on Christians and stated that Article 25 of the Constitution of India allows the citizens to propagate and profess the religion of their choice and India being a democratic country should maintain its secular fabric.
Shri. Vijendra Singh, President of the Jaat Sabha, expressed grief and concern over the reeling communal violence. He stated that the Britishers ruled this country for more than 200 years yet they never attempted to forcefully convert the Indians. He further says that the Christians now are being falsely accused of forcible conversions.
The dharna is witnessing people from different faiths actively participating and engaging in the protest.
Mrs. Margaret Alva attended the dharna: Earlier on Sunday Mrs. Margret Alva, a senior Congress leader and the Secretary General of Indian National Congress, also attended the dharna. She seemed very concerned over the situation. Speaking to the public gathered at Jantar Mantar she said that she met with the Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and discussed the on-going violence and atrocities against innocent Christians in the state.
EFI North East correspondent Rev. Thiek reports: In view of prevailing circumstances in India, Christians in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam had peaceful procession condemning persecution on Christian minority in India, More procession and rally will continued in near future. The Churches go on fasting prayer for the country and persecutors in particular, so that God's mercy be upon the enemies, and they will turn to the Lord.
Hindustan Times reports: In an article Sagari Chhabra on September 29th writes, 'Originally, we were animists. There were two tribes in Kandhamal: the Kandhas and the Panas, who were dalits. The former converted to Hinduism while the latter to Christianity. Today, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal are forcing the Panas to reconvert to Hinduism. But we don't want to do that," a teacher told us at the Hathishala refugee camp in Orissa's G. Udayagiri area.
She further writes, "Purender Nayak of Nilungia went back to see his house. He was killed and his body cut into pieces. The VHP and the Bajrang Dal are making the Kandhas do all this," a camp resident told me. "They abduct our girls from the camps and rape them. We have no hope at all, but we believe in our God and he will help us,".
Why are Christians being targeted? Deputy Inspector General of Police R.P. Koche attributes it to the killing of Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati. While his killing must be condemned, sources claim that he had 55 criminal cases pending against him. Besides, the Maoists have claimed responsibility for this dastardly act.
Communal violence is not new to Orissa. Last Christmas, Hindutva forces attacked Christians and destroyed churches. The spread of Hindutva can only be accomplished when the majority community is afraid of something. "Conversion is that something, the prop which Hindutva can use to spread its tentacles in a state where 47% people are poor. The aim is to divert attention from the real issues.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
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