Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Young Catholic Buried Alive In Anti-Christian Violence In Orissa

9/11/08 BHUBANESWAR, India (UCAN) — As the anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa ebbs, survivors recount narrow escapes as well as atrocities they witnessed.

Anti-Christian violence swept through the eastern Indian state after Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, an 85-year-old Hindu religious leader, and four associates were killed on Aug. 23 in the state’s Kandhamal district. Maoists claimed responsibility, but Hindu extremists blame Christians.

About 50,000 Christians hid in forests as Hindu radical mobs burned their houses and Church buildings, such as churches, presbyteries and convents. The violence claimed at least 27 lives, mostly Christians, and wounded hundreds including pastors and nuns.

One of the Catholics killed in the violence was Rajesh Digal. His brother-in-law, Kamal Digal, narrated how a mob buried Rajesh alive. Kamal, also a Catholic, spoke with UCA News on Sept. 9 over the phone from an undisclosed location in Kandhamal district.

Rajesh, 27, and a Hindu friend, Tunguru Mallick, worked in Chennai, a southern Indian city. The two came back to Orissa for holidays and arrived at G. Udayagiri, a small town, on Aug. 24, not realizing Hindu groups had called for a statewide strike that day to protest Swami Saraswati’s murder.

The town 220 kilometers west of Bhubaneswar, the state capital, is in Kandhamal. Bhubaneswar lies 1,745 kilometers southeast of New Delhi.

As no transport was available, Rajesh and Tunguru decided to walk to Bataguda, their native village, about 60 kilometers further west from G. Udayagiri. However, a mob accosted the duo when they reached Paburia, about 12 kilometers into their journey, and demanded they identify themselves. As the two tried to talk, someone pulled a bible from Rajesh’s bag.

The mob then began beating Rajesh, who fell down to the ground. While some continued to beat him, others dug a pit in a nearby field. As they dragged Rajesh toward it, he asked the attackers why they were burying him when he was still alive. They retorted, “Call your Jesus. He will save you.” They then tied Rajesh, dumped him into the pit and covered it with mud.

Kamal said Tunguru, who watched the entire incident, recounted it all to him.

The extremists then turned to Tunguru, who kept insisting he was a Hindu. Nonetheless, they condemned him for befriending Christians, then poured kerosene on him and set him on fire. Tunguru fled to a nearby village where people helped douse the fire. According to Kamal, Tunguru suffered severe burns on his body.

Kamal said Rajesh’s two younger sisters and an aged mother now live in a relief camp. Nobody has filed a police case over Rajesh’s death, he added.