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ICC Note:

The Christian community in the Kandhamal District of Odisha State in Eastern India is remembering the 7-year anniversary of the attacks by radical Hindu nationalists which led to the death of more than 100 Christians and the displacement of 50,000.

8/3/2015 India (Christian Examiner) – Seven years after rioting against Christians by Hindu extremists claimed the lives of 100 people and left thousands injured and displaced, Christians continue to experience persecution in the Kandhamal district of Odisha, an eastern state in India.

Violence against Christians came with a vengeance after the August 2008 killing of a highly revered Hindu monk and World Hindu Council leader, Laxshmanananda Saraswati, along with four of his aides, despite evidence that Maoists were behind Saraswati’s murder.

Between August 25-28 of that year, Hindu militants, shouting tributes to Hindu gods, set fire to Christian settlements and killed at least 100 people and displaced an additional 50,000 refugees, some to makeshift camps and others to nearby forests where more died of hunger and snakebites. The rioting also destroyed at least 300 churches and 6,000 homes.

According to one Washington Post report, one possible factor for the rioting was the rapid conversion rate of impoverished tribal communities.

The region’s Christian population had grown from six percent in 1971 to 27 percent by 2008. Rioters, at the time of the attack, wielding swords, hammers, and sticks were heard shouting, “India is for Hindus! Convert or leave!”

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