After eight years, there are signs that the Christian community of Kandhamal is starting to recover from the 2008 anti-Christian riots. Recently, Christian leaders affected by the 2008 violence renewed their Christian vows and committed to working in Kandhamal, despite the persecution they have faced there. In 2008, mobs of Hindu radicals attacked hundreds of villages in Kandhamal, killing Christians, destroying their homes, and desecrating churches. When the violence ended after three months, over 100 Christians were killed and 56,000 displaced.
12/14/2016 India (Crux) – A 2008 anti-Christian pogrom in Kandhamal in eastern India that ended with at least 100 people dead, hundreds injured and thousands homeless left deep wounds in the impoverished and illiterate rural communities it affected.
Yet two recent vocations stories suggest that new Christian life is stirring, even where militant Hindu radicals tried to wipe it out eight years ago.
On December 8, the Sisters of the Handmaids of Mary celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and during Mass seven of the sisters renewed their vows. The group included Sister Meena Barwa, who was gang-raped and beaten in 2008 but managed to survive her ordeal.
Meena told Crux, “It’s a day of great joy, which invigorates and encourages us in our spiritual lives and in our mission.”
Meena says that after her nightmare of an ordeal she better understands, “the value of life. I have experienced many miracles in life. By all these, I am simply pulled away to God. I have no regrets.
“My understanding is this way: Jesus experienced the pain in my body, as a woman, that was lacking in his as a man. Violence was in fact done to Jesus and the Church,” she said.
“God has kept me alive once again to see His endless love and His glory,” Meena said. “I am convinced of this.”
Then on December 12, two local Kandhamal deacons were ordained to the priesthood. They too were in the maelstrom of the pogrom.
Balabanto Rana Singh and Munib Pradhan were ordained by Bishop Aplinar Senapati to the Congregation of Mission at Our Lady of Charity Church, Raikia.
Munib Pradhan’s family home was attacked in Raikia in 2008, and his father and brother escaped to the forests to escape from the mobs during the violence which lasted many weeks.