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Kandhamal is Burning Again.
By Thomas Pallithanam
Hyderabad, Aug. 25. Hardily have the smouldering embers died down, fresh and wanton torching of churches and other Christian Institutions have begun all over again in Kandhamal and other districts of Orissa.Sequel to the assassination of Swami Lakshmanananda Swaraswati of Kandhamal by Naxalites there has been a violent uprising against the Christian Community in Orissa and particularly in Kandhamal district. The violence will continue to escalate fears every one who has some  idea of the way Sangh Parivar works.
Those hands stretched out in loving embrance have been brutalised by the agents of hate and destruction. (File Photo)
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On the night of 24th August 2008 the Ashram of Swami Lakshmanandan, VHP Leader was bombed and attacked by Maoists. The Swami and 5 others were killed in the Maoist attack. Every one feared a violent reprisal against the Christian Community despite the fact it had nothing to do with the attack on the Ashram and it was the handiwork of Naxalites. Swami Lakshmanananda Swaraswati was the alleged instigator of all the violence that took place around Christmas 2007. In that violence - earlier reported from this news by-line - over 100 Christian churches, institutions were vandalised and burnt and over 800 Christian houses looted and destroyed. The state machinery then responded with deafening silence and fleeing feet. By the Director General of Police's own admission the state knew that the Swami was behind the violence that was so cruelly unleashed against the Christian Community without any provocation. But they refused to act against him telling every one that Swami was the Thackeray of Kandhamal!!

News of violence is pouring in through private sources. Not only the state machinery but even the Oriya media has a very strong saffron hue. Even the blood of innocent victims spilled all over cannot hope to change that hue. So nothing much will be heard from the media information coming out of Orissa.

Ms Rama Hansraj, Deputy State Representative of CRS sent this news update over the internet ''According the primary information received, Jan vikas (Catholic Charities office in Phulbani), Pastoral centre and Baliguda church have been set ablaze. Missionaries of charity sisters were attacked and stones were pelted at them and one sister is badly hurt. Sr. Nirmala has already spoken to Government of India (details not known). Two jeeps were burnt in Sambalpur and one church in Raikia.

Tension is high across the state and is expected to worsen tomorrow. Stray incidents of attack on churches and institutions are being reported from some of the districts. Section 144 has been declared in many places including Kandhamal. Security has been tightened and prohibitory orders have been  clamped in Kandhamal district ahead of the 12-hour bandh called tomorrow by the VHP and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar to protest the killing (of the Swami)''

She has sent a second update just now ''situation in Bhubaneswar is getting a bit tense with many institutions and churches being attacked (as of now limited to mob breaking down the doors and windows and stone pelting). XIMB, Loyola school and SVD House in Kalinga Vihar have been attacked with damages to windows and walls - priests from SVD house moved to FORUM office but they are not sure if this will be left untouched. Stones were pelted in Archbishops house and mob was stopped from entering into the house and additional police were called for. Windows and walls of the guest house which can be reached from the road side were broken in the Archbishops house. Phulbani parish (district head quarters) and church has been attacked and burnt. All the fathers in the district had to move and are accommodated by some families. Few boys who were being helped by father for their studies in Phulbani were also attacked their houses were burnt. Sr. Suma and five her companions (MC Sisters) who were conducting health camps in Brahamanigoan (severely affected in the previous violence in December) were stuck for long in the village. Most of the sisters left convents are in different schools now''

And there is even more tragic news streaming in. Fr Ajay Singh, Director of Jan Vikas, Social Action Initiative of the Archdiocese of Bubhaneswar reports that Sr Meena has been allegedly raped at the Pastoral Centre by the arsonists. Pastoral Centre which had some how escaped vandalisation last time around now stands completely destroyed and the Director Fr.Thomas Chellan is hospitalised with serious head injury.

Christian homes, Christian headed NGOs and Community Based Organisations, businesses are all being systematically being attacked and destroyed. I had mentioned that there was a new churning in the hills of Kandhamal. The attacks have come even before our hapless Christians have had the time to gather their wits together. Everyone is wondering ''Where is He Our 'Great Big Wonderful God' ''.  We need to see His mighty deeds as of old. And Moses to hold up his hands as the battle rages. And all of us can lend the support of out little hands to His mighty arm. Sure we shall fold them in prayer but also raise them in protest, with those hands send our protest letters to the authorities, register our protest at the Indian Embassies (in your countries), the UN, UNCHR, EU and in whatever other ways the Spirit inspires  us.

Here are some relevant fax numbers and e-mail ids:
Mr Manmohan Singh - Fax: 011-23019545 / 23016857

Shri. Shivraj Patel
Fax: 011-23092979 / 23094221

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patel
Fax: 011-23017290 / 23017824

Shri Navin Patnaik
Fax: 0674-2400100 / 2590833

Shri Muralidhara CB
Fax: 0674-3536582
Phone: 0674-2536581 / 2536583 / 2536584 / 2536587

Phulbani Collector (Mr Manish Verma)
Mob.: (0)9437073200 / (0)9437299101
06842-253601 / 253602
Fax: 06842-253905

RDC Berhampur

SP Phulbani
Mobile: (0)9437323346
Phone: 06842-253611

DIG Cuttack
0674-2304451 / 2306501
Mobile: (0)9437310000
Fax: 0674-2304033

DSP Shri Praveen Kumar
Mobile: (0)9437216660
Fax: 0674-2304294

Shir Ajit Kumar Tripathi IAS (Chief Secretary CDO)
Fax: 0674-2536660 / 2532196


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