Orissa Authorities Detain Christians Following Violence
2/17/08 BHUBANESWAR, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– At least eleven Christians remained behind bars Sunday, February 17, in Indias troubled state of Orissa after deadly clashes with Hindu mobs attacking churches, Christian homes and other properties, a lawyer said.
Priest Dibyasingh Parichha, a lawyer and secretary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in Orissa, said eight believers were falsely accused and arrested during riots that began around Christmas in December, and killed up to nine Christians. At least two other Christian refugees staying in camps are known to have died in recent weeks, apparently of illnesses.
In addition three other Christians were arrested Sunday, February 17, but it was not immediately clear how long they would be held in prison, with a bail hearing scheduled for Monday, February 18.
Among those detained is a 12-year old boy, identified only as Silu, who was allegedly injured by gun fire in the December violence.
Parichha said the Archdiocese has been more successful in making legal arguments for some 21 other Christians, who were recently released on bail. It also represented dozens of other believers and alleged victims of Hindu violence , including priests and a nun, whose case was heard Sunday, February 17, by a local court.
The detained Christians have been apparently accused of sparking Hindu riots, charges they strongly deny. Orissa, a predominantly Hindu state, has also seen tensions in hospitals, the advocacy group Global Council if Indian Christians told BosNewsLife.
Pitabasa Digal’s eldest son, 18-year-old Kailash Digal, is suffering of Brain Malaria in Orissas capital Bhubaneswar where a government hospital initially refused to treat him, apparently because of his Christian background, the GCIC said. Finally on GCIC’s request doctors started treatment. GCIC President Sajan George said the boy got admitted February 9, and his group has provided aid towards immediate medical treatment.
George said the family “lost everything in the riot for the sake of Christ.” He added that the local churchs “women’s prayer cell and few benevolent donors” went to the hospital “prayed and helped the boy” who had been un coma for two days “but is now fast recovering.”
Under GCIC pressure, Orissas chief Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed medical staff to “give special care to the patient,” George added. He said however that “many riot victims” are still “suffering from various types of ailments.”
Minister Patnaik has been under pressure to resign after militant Maoists reportedly carried out an attack late Friday, February 15, that killed 13 policemen and a civilian in Orissa.
It happened when 500 Maoists struck Nayagarh district in Orissa and looted over a thousand guns including AK-47 rifles, Indian media reported.
With a strong presence in Orissa states Kandhamal district, Maoists are suspected of using recent violence in the area to recruit frustrated Christians and goad them into retaliating, Christian leaders have reportedly said.