A survivor of India’s worst anti-Christian violence shared her moving testimony at the close of the National Eucharistic Congress in Mumbai earlier this month. In 2008, in India’s Odisha state, then known as Orissa, anti-Christian violence swept across several districts for three months starting in August. When the dust settled, as many as 100 Christians had been killed in the violence and over 50,000 had been displaced as mobs of enraged Hindu radicals marched from village to village killing Christians and destroying their homes and places of worship.
11/20/2015 India (Asia News) – The Church in India “is a vibrant and active Church, and Pope Francis loves her”, said Card. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, during the Mass that closed the National Eucharistic Congress in Mumbai. Thousands of faithful attended the Mass, the conclusion of a week of testimonies by bishops and faithful from across the country. Among these was Kanaka Rekha Nayaka who survived the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008.
After her moving testimony, the woman was blessed by the three cardinals (Card. Gracias, Card. Toppo and Card. Cleemis). Her story moved the Archbishop of Mumbai: “Testimonials like this reinforce our faith and show that Christ is with us. The Cross is inextricable from the life of every Christian”. Here is the text read by Kanaka.
I am Kanaka Rekha Nayak, the wife of the late Parikhita Nayak. I have two children. On 25th August 2008, around 1 pm, I was with my two children at home. Suddenly, a mob of 400 people entered my village shouting anti-Christian slogans. Hearing the noise, I ran into the forest with my children. I could see the house burning from afar.
I was worried about my husband. My husband had gone to the other street. The rioters encircled the house where my husband was hiding. They were carrying lathis, axes, knives and guns. They killed two of my husband’s friend. My husband was able to push them and run for his life into the forest.
I could not return to my home as the rioters had burned down my house. Spending whole night in the forest, I traveled the following day to my mother’s house in Raikia. I met my husband there and as the place was not safe for us, we went through jungle to go to the nearby town.
As we were going through the forest, my daughter felt thirsty and cried out for water. As we came down to the roadside looking for water, the rioters caught my husband. Immediately about 100 people armed with swords, axes and local made guns surrounded us. With abusive language they shouted at us. They took my husband to the nearby temple and tied his hand at the pole.
There, they beat him thoroughly and forced him to confess he had become a Christian. My husband said, you may kill me but I will not become a Hindu. I fell down at the feet of the rioters and requested them to spare him, but they would not listen.
With chain around his neck they dragged my husband about one kilometer and cut his legs and then his neck and then burnt him. I run away with my two children to the nearby police station in Raikia. The police responded, but by that time the rioters had fled.