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Orissa’s Christians Still Hiding in Forests

ICC Note: Even though there were no major attacks on Christians in Orissa over Christmas, the fact that there are still Christians hiding from violence in the forests shows the tragedy is far from over.

By Dibin Samuel and Anne Thomas
01/05/09 NEW DELHI ( – As cold weather grips Orissa state, Christian leaders in India have expressed their shock over the revelation that there are still Christians hiding in forests to escape violence.

Despite the presence of thousands of paramilitary forces in the north-eastern Indian state, hundreds of people, including many Christians and Hindus, are believed to be hiding in forests. They are fearful of a repercussion of the violence that swept through Orissa late last year after the murder of a radical Hindu leader.

“Hundreds of tribals haven’t returned home after the riots,” district collector Krishan Kumar told Indo-Asian News Service.

“The tribals had recently visited their villages but fled to the forest again. We are trying to reach them.”

Christians in Orissa have been in a state of constant fear since the leader of the Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP), Laxmanananda Saraswati, was killed in mid-August.

“Some 15,000 Christians are living outside Kandhamal and are scared of returning home because many of the rioters are still at large and the police are not arresting them,” reported Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians.

“During this time of winter, the fact that Christians are still hiding in forests is really shocking to us,” added Bishop DK Sahu, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India, according to New Delhi-based Christian Today. “We urge the government and church relief agencies to do everything possible to provide them with shelter, and protection.” … [Go To Full Story]