By ICC’s India Correspondent
5/30/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – A Christian’s home was destroyed by Hindu radicals in village of Budrukia located in the Kandhamal District of Odisha state in India. The incident took place on April 12, 2014 and was intended by the radicals to drive the Christian family out of the village once and for all.
In the middle of the night on April 12, Sirba Digal’s house was completely destroyed for the third time in six years. Hindu radicals came to Digal three days prior to the attack and told him to stop the construction of his nearly completed home. They said, “We do not want a Christian presence in the village; you better leave or face the consequences.”
Budrukia is one of the villages in the Kandhamal District hit worst by violence during the 2007 and 2008 anti-Christian riots that swept the area. The violence perpetrated in the Kandhamal District during December 2007 and August 2008 specifically targeted Dalit and tribal Christians. The results of both of these riots were devastating for Kandhamal’s Christian community. Fifty-six thousand people were internally displaced, 5,600 homes, mostly belonging to Christians, were destroyed and almost 300 churches were burned down. Several Christian women, including a nun, were raped and about 96 people, again mostly Christian, were killed.
Digal, whose home was destroyed in the December 2007 anti-Christian riots, was given financial assistance through a housing initiative headed by the Odisha state government. Digal’s family returned to their village two months after the riots and rebuilt their home. However, it was destroyed again in the August 2008 anti-Christian riots.
After the second attack, the family left the village and sought shelter with their relatives from another village, where they still remain. They had planned to return to their home village after the completion of their home, which was under construction and nearing completion. The destruction of their house came as a shock to the family for whom returning to their home village remains a dream. Unfortunately, the threats accompanying this most recent attack have left the family with little hope of realizing this dream.
Three people were arrested in connection to the incident, but were later were released on bail. Days after the release of the accused, on April 18, more than 10 Hindu radicals confronted Digal, threatening him and advising him to leave the village. This time, things were different. The radicals told him that they would kill him, accusing Digal of “land grabbing,” in an effort to frighten him and the entire Christian community into fleeing the village.
The village of Budrukia has 15 Christian families currently living in it from various denominational backgrounds. The threats from the Hindu radicals to Digal and his family have many Christian families very concerned.
Local Christian leaders are initiating discussions with the village authority to create peace between both parties and to reach to an amicable solution. Anti-Christian attacks by Hindu radicals continue to pop up creating fear and unrest among Christian communities in Kandhamal, leaving them hopeless and in unsafe situations. Persecution didn’t end six years ago for Christians who continue to live in the state of Odisha. For them, to practice their faith in certain villages continues to be life threatening.