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Orissa Violence “Worst in India ’s History”

ICC Note

“We are saddened to acknowledge the violence in Orissa will go into the history books as an unprecedented attack on Christians in India . The tragedy is deepened by proof that the violence was avoidable if the authorities had enforced the rule of law.”

By James Varghese

Monday, January 14, 2008 India (ANS) — December’s violence against Christians in the East India state of Orissa is the worst in the country’s history.

That’s according to two reports by the All India Christian Council (AICC), details of which were published in a story written by Dibin Samuel for the Christian Today website.

AICC said that the Dalit caste, formerly known as “Untouchables,” was the group most affected by the violence.

Christian Today reported that AICC sent four of its leaders to the area on a fact-finding mission. They found that during the violence, more than 95 churches were either vandalized or destroyed, and 730 homes belonging to Christians were burned down.

Christian Today reported that the AICC team found that the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, meaning the World Hindu Council) instigated the attacks and targeted Christians throughout Kandhamal District, Orissa state.

Christian Today reported that Dr. Joseph D’Souza, AICC president, said “We are saddened to acknowledge the violence in Orissa will go into the history books as an unprecedented attack on Christians in India . The tragedy is deepened by proof that the violence was avoidable if the authorities had enforced the rule of law.”

He added, “Many have expressed outrage with the authorities and Hindutva (Hindu) extremists whose actions hurt innocent people during Christmas – a season of peace across the world. But we must express our anger and frustration in a peaceful manner.”

According to Christian Today, national church bodies in India have demanded access to the troubled Kandhamal region of Orissa state to distribute relief and visit the affected families.