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03/04/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – Stories of martyrdom in the 2008 anti-Christian riots that swept across the Kandhamal District of Odisha, then known as Orissa, continue to inspire the Indian Church. At a gathering in Bengaluru, Kanakarekha Nayak, a survivor of the riots, shared with over 1,000 Christians about how her husband was brutally murdered for his faith more than a decade ago.

According to Nayak, she and her family were caught by a mob of Hindu radicals on August 27, 2008. When the mob discovered they were Christians, her husband, Parikkhit Nayak, was beaten, dragged, and brutally murdered. According to Nayak, the mob cut off all of Parikkhit’s limbs before setting him on fire.

The gathering was organized by the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council and was aimed at honoring the faith and sacrifice of Christians in Kandhamal. The gathering was also used to raise awareness of the continued suffering of Kandhamal’s Christian community.

The 2008 anti-Christian riots are still remembered as the worst instance of Christian persecution in India’s modern history. In August 2008, Kandhamal’s Christians were wrongly accused of assassinating a local Hindu leader. This sparked off three months of anti-Christian violence in which mobs of Hindu radicals attacked village after village in Kandhamal targeting Christians.

When the violence finally came to an end, over 100 Christians had died, more than 1,400 Christian homes were destroyed, and 56,000 people were displaced. To date, many of the Christian victims of the 2008 anti-Christian riots have received little to no justice from the local court system.

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