Violence Against the Christian Faith by Radical Hindus in India

Friday, 19 September 2008 08:17

The Indian churches have declared a day of fasting on Monday, September 22nd. Please continue your support and prayers for Indian Churches. They need your support and help in times like what is described below.

Here are some facts about India:

Total Population: 1.028 Billion

Population by Religion:
Hinduism 82%
Islam 12%
Christianity 2.5%
Sikhism 2%
Buddhism 0.7%
Jainism 0.5%
Zoroastrian 0.01%
Judaism 0.0005%

Though Christianity came into India 2000 years ago, (as traditionally believed, through the Apostles Thomas [to Kerala first] and Bartholomew [to western Maharashtra] ), Christians form a very small percentage of the population. However, overt persecution for this small group of people has always been a threat for the Christians to share their faith. In 1999, Graham Staines (an Australian missionary) and his two small sons were burnt to death by an angry Hindu mob in Orissa.

Last year in November, five of our brothers in Bangalore were beaten up and put behind bars for preaching the word. These kind of gross crimes and atrocities are always been done on other church groups as well. They are accusing the church of "forcible conversions". Even last week, many churches were attacked and many people beaten. So, one of our churches in Mangalore had to meet in house church because they feared their meeting would be targeted. They are going to meet in house churches till situation get calm.

Just in last one month alone, according to the All India Catholic Union, in Orissa:

  • 45 people have died
  • 18,000 wounded
  • 56 Church buildings destroyed
  • 11 Christian schools destroyed
  • 300 villages attacked and
  • 40,000 Christians homeless, forced into the jungles in acts of violence and vandalism.

As an offshoot, the fire of persecution was kindled in the southern States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and in central Madhya Pradesh.

Last week, in an incident in Tamil Nadu an angry mob viciously beat up the pastor and the congregation (including women and children) when their service was drawing to a close. The reason was because of two women that had been found dead in a pond near the church and a woman whom they considered a "deity" said her spirit goddess had killed the women because of the Church and its meetings. Apparently she had threatened more destruction if the Christians were not sent packing. The villagers have given the pastor two months to clear out with his congregation if they did not want more "things" to happen to them.

In recent weeks more horrendous persecution has broken out in some areas of India against people of the Christian faith by radical Hindus. See the news report and a message from Dinesh George who leads the ICOC churches in India:

"So far our people have not had any problems in Orissa. The last persecution we faced was in Bangalore; where our brothers were beaten and imprisoned. Last Sunday in Mangalore many churches and many of the Christian faith were attacked. Our disciples are safe, but quite affected by all this. Please keep us in your prayers.

We have declared a day of fasting on Sept 22nd for the churches in India to be protected and for godly justice to prevail in our country."

7 Month's Pregnant Mother Cut into Pieces for Her Faith
As narrated by an independent writer: “Mrs. Kamalini Naik's husband was asked to become a Hindu for which the fanatics threatened to kill his mother. Seeing his mother under their grip, Mr. Naik denounced his faith. Then they called his wife Kamalini Naik who was 7 months pregnant. She strongly stood for her faith in Christ and immediately the fanatics cut her and her one and half year son into pieces in front of her husband and other Christians.

20 Year Old Girl Was Burnt to Death While a Cheering Mob Watched
Rajni Majhi (20) was burnt alive by a mob. Fr. Edward Sequeira, a priest belonging to the Society of Divine Word (SVD), was one of those seriously injured when his mission station was attacked by a mob in Orissa. Currently recuperating at Burla Medical College Hospital, Sambalpur; Fr. Sequeira, upon gaining consciousness, narrated the story to his brother Commodore Valentine Sequeira who writes, "A large mob of more than 700 people were returning after attending the cremation of Swami Laxmananand Saraswati who was killed along with four others Saturday evening by suspected Maoist guerrillas at his Jalespata ashram. The mob was chanting anti-Christian slogans and when they reached Padampur in the Bargarh district, they attacked the orphanage where Fr Edward lived.

Ms. Rajni, a 20 year old student who lived in the orphanage and was also working as an auxiliary nurse in the orphanage, confronted them. When Fr Sequeira arrived at the spot, the mob locked him and Rajni into separate rooms and ordered the children to vacate the orphanage. The mob then ransacked Fr Sequeira's room, poured gasoline on him and Rajni and then set the orphanage on fire. ‘I was engulfed in flames, I could hear the cries of Rajni and the mob was cheering and shouting through the windows,’ recalls Fr Sequeira. He however, managed to crawl to the bathroom, beat out the flames and closed the windows. ‘When I started to suffocate I found a crack on the wall that was damaged in the attack and kept my nose there to breathe some air. All the while I could hear the cries of Rajni from the next room where she was writhing in agony. After sometime, there was silence and I thought she must have managed to escape from the room,’ recalled Fr Sequeira.” Unknown to Fr Edward, the girl was burnt alive and had breathed her last. Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD recovering in the hospital. People from the neighborhood who heard the cries of children rushed to the rescue, broke the walls, and brought him to safety. That is when the mob attacked him again outside the orphanage and beat him up mercilessly until he became unconscious. He was initially rushed to the hospital at Padampur and later with the help of local officials was shifted to Burla Medical College Hospital, in Sambalpur. "The cries of Rajni and the guilt of helplessness in saving her life will always haunt me," Fr. Edward sighs.

In Orissa, Hindu Extremists Burn Nun Alive, Rape Another
Bubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – A Catholic nun was burnt alive by a group of Hindu fundamentalists who stormed the orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh (Orissa), this according to Police Superintendent Ashok Biswall. A priest who was at the orphanage was also badly hurt and is now being treated in hospital for multiple burns. Another nun from Bubaneshwar's Social Centre was gang raped by groups of Hindu extremists before the facility was set on fire. Sources also told AsiaNews that elsewhere one priest was wounded and two other were abducted. The list of violent anti-Christian acts is thus getting longer.

For the past two days the state of Orissa (north-east India) has been racked by violence following the assassination of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda Saraswati. Churches, community and pastoral centers, convents, and orphanages have been attacked yesterday and today by mobs shouting "Kill the Christians; destroy their institutions." Tensions in the state are in fact still running high. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has planned demonstrations for today and tomorrow. Gangs of Hindu fanatics from the VHP as well as Sangh Parivar are roaming roads and villages, setting up road blocks, sending their own members on raids of plunder and violence. According to firsthand accounts the archdiocese's social centre was attacked and torched. Before that the attackers raped Sister Meena, a nun working at the centre.

The local pastoral center, which has escaped destruction in last December's violence, is now a total wreck. Father Thomas, who ran the facility, is in hospital with serious head injuries. Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Ajay Singh also said that a nun was burnt alive in an orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh. Elsewhere Sisters of Mother Teresa have been attacked by stone-throwing Hindu militants, one seriously injured. All Christian institutions are now in danger because mobs of Hindu radicals are roaming the streets, breaking down doors and smashing windows, including in some cases Christian homes. Many priests and nuns have had to escape.

In Bubaneshwar, Hindu militants stoned the Archbishop's residence, but did not dare invade the place because of police presence.

In Phulbani, the parish church and the home of local clergy were attacked and set on fire. All local priests fled and found refuge in the homes of some of members of the local congregation. The youth hostel that houses students who study in Phulbani has also been torched.

Some missionaries of Charity who were attending a health course in Brahamanigoan were blocked for hours in the village. Elsewhere nuns left their convent finding shelter in some school buildings.

Fr. Thomas Chellen Describes the Orissa Mob Ordeal
Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. Currently undergoing treatment at a Catholic hospital in Orissa's capital Bhubaneswar, Fr. Chellen had this horrifying experience to share with Catholic News Service:

"They had poured kerosene on my head, and one held a matchbox in his hands to light the fire. But thanks to divine providence, in the end, they did not do that. Otherwise, I would not be here to tell this horror," the 55-year-old priest, director of the pastoral center at Konjamendi in the Indian state of Orissa, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from his hospital bed Aug. 28.

When a Hindu mob of 500 people broke into the pastoral center around noon Aug. 24, Father Chellen said he fled through the backyard with another priest and a nun.

"It was heartbreaking for us to watch from a distance the entire complex go up in smoke," said Father Chellen, who had supervised the construction of the center that opened in 2001 and could accommodate 200 people.

"They vandalized everything and set it on fire. It has been reduced to ashes," he added.

As the three watched from a distance, some other priests told them to flee.

"We fled to the jungles and came in the night to take shelter in the house of a Hindu friend and spent the night there," Father Chellen said, adding that the second priest left them to join other priests.

The following morning, he said, the Hindu family moved the priest and nun to an adjacent vacant house and locked it to give the impression that no one was inside.

However, the Hindu mobs overheard the priest speaking on his cell phone, broke into the room and dragged him and the nun outside.

"They began our crucifixion parade," said Father Chellen. The gang of about 50 armed Hindus "beat us up and led us like culprits along the road" to the burned pastoral center.

"There they tore my shirt and started pulling off the clothes of the nun. When I protested, they beat me hard with iron rods. Later, they took the sister inside (and) raped her while they went on kicking and teasing me, forcing (me) to say vulgar words," said the priest who has cuts, bruises and swollen tissue all over his body and stitches on his face.

"Later both of us, half-naked, were taken to the street, and they ordered me to have sex with the nun in public, saying nuns and priests do it. As I refused, they went on beating me and dragged us to the nearby government office. Sadly, a dozen policemen were watching all this," he said.

Angry at his plea to the police for help, the mob beat the bleeding priest again.

Later, a government official and members of the mob took the priest and the nun to the police station, where Father Chellen said he was kicked in the face.

"The four-hour ordeal ended when a senior police officer arrived in the evening," said Father Chellen.

The priest said one of the most hurtful things about the incident was that some local Hindus whom he knew were watching the events and ignored his requests for help.

Church groups have been able to give the names of at least 26 people who were killed in the week-long violence in Orissa, in which Hindu fanatics also burned down or destroyed some 4,000 Christian homes, several churches and convents.

Read 3141 times Last modified on Friday, 19 September 2008 17:59