Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Orissa on Fire

Since several days Christians in the eastern state of Orissa are facing violence , crime and murder.The situation seems out of control.I have published a CNN IBN news report which Julia passed on to me.Thank you Julia.
The VHP is a right wing Hindu organization.
Rev Richard Howell , representing Christians is a family friend.
(L-R Sagarika Ghosh (news editor) Ram Madhav (RSS -Hindu organization spokesman) Prof Mohanty and Rev Richard Howell)

Religion has split Orissa and the divide is murderous. Several people have been killed in communal clashes in Kandhamal district after the murder of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader on Saturday.
The VHP called for a statewide shutdown in the state on Monday during which churches, prayer houses and vehicles were attacked in many places.
The communal tension began after Swami Laxmananand Saraswati, a member of VHP’s central advisory committee, and four others were murdered by suspected Naxals (Naxals are a left - wing group) in Kandhamal district.
Police and paramilitary forces are on guard in towns of Kandhamal district. Section 144, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, has been clamped across Kandhamal.
Saraswati was leading a campaign against cow slaughter and religious conversion in the communally sensitive district. Rightwing Hindu groups allege that Christians killed Saraswati because he opposed conversion. Christian organisations reject such allegations.

In one of the worst attacks, a Christian woman died and a priest was severely burnt when a mob set fire to an orphanage run by Christian missionaries in Bargarh district on Monday.
The incident again brought shame to the state. Nine years ago, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in Keonjhar district.
What has caused the communal divide in Orissa? Is religion to blame or politics? Are conversions pitting Hindus against Christians? CNN-IBN’s Sagarika Ghose asked this on Face The Nation.
The guests on the show were: RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav, Reverend Dr Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and Professor Manoranjan Mohanty, of the Council for Social Development.
Madhav was infuriated at allegations that Hindu groups were targeting missionaries and Christians in Orissa. “The situation is quite different. Hindus are at the receiving end. A highly respected saint was killed. There is enough evidence to prove the complicity of Christian organisations in the murder,” he claimed.
Howell rejected the Madhav’s allegation and claimed conversion has become an excuse to attack Christians and malign them. “The VHP gets the maximum amount of money in India than Christians. Christians have used money to serve and empower the poor and marginalized. Not a single case has been proved till date in the courts of forced conversion (by Christian groups),” he said.
The issue is not religion but poverty, said Professor Mohanty. “Kandhamal is one of the poorest regions in the country. Seventy per cent people here are below the poverty line; 51 per cent are tribals and 16 per cent are Dalits,” he said. a situation of poverty and landlessness, both among Hindus and Christians. Orissa has become the experiment ground of globalisation, economic reforms, mega projects and Hindutva politics.”
Hindu groups are not to blame for the violence and the state is in turmoil because of Christian missionaries, alleged Madhav. “Every conversion in Orissa has to be registered with the local police or magistrate but no such thing happens. Where is the chance for Hindutva politics when missionaries are going about aggressively and alluring people,” he said.
The Sangh Parivar doesn’t hate conversions as much as it does Christians, alleged Howell. “An ideology of hatred has been propagated by some sections of the Sangh Parivar. They don’t hate Christian service; it is the very identity of being a Christian that is hated. There are just 2.4 per cent Christians in India and we too have contributed to the growth of the country.”
Christians are not hated, insisted Madhav. “Every religion is respected in this country but Christians criticise and attack Hindu religion. It this attitude of Christians which is leading to tension in this country,” he alleged.
The communal divide in Orissa’s tribal districts is the result of poverty and “competitive politics”, said Mohanty. “The shrinking rights of tribals over forests and land and the coming of mega projects is the economic issue there. They are all poor there and poverty is being diverted to communalism. It is competitive politics,” he said.
Madhav called such an analysis wrong. “There is a clear cut division between Hindus and Christians and it is because of their (missionaries) wrongdoing and Congress leaders. A holy person is killed and the very next day the Congress tables a no-confidence motion against the state government—what does it suggest? The Congress is a part of a larger political conspiracy,” he alleged.
Howell announced Christian institutions in the country would close on August 29 to protest against the attacks in Orissa. “I hope the civil society wakes up before it’s too late,” he said.
Madhav said Christian groups were free to shut their schools and institutions but they must also shut “proselytization” activity.
“Do not make this a Christian versus Hindu issue. We must go into the sources of violence,” said Mohanty.
(Courtesy CNN IBN)
I tried to post videos of the talk show but for some reason they did not load. You can go to the IBN Live website HERE and watch the videos , there is live footage too.
Please pray for peace in Orissa. It is the state where Australian missionary Graham Stains and his 2 little sons were burnt to death in 1999
Today we had a 4 hour power cut, so the day passed off tension free.
And our cable TV was also hooked. I had done the job but did not know I had to re-boot. LOL.

15 Fertilize my soul:

John Cowart said...

Hi Amrita,

Sorry I have not been able to read your blog for a while but between computer problems and a storm I fell behind.

The religious tensions you describe sound scary. I hope you and yours stay safe.


Angie said...

Oh my, thanks for sharing this as I've hearding nothing of it in the mainstream news. Praying God's righteousness would prevail!

Amrita said...

Thank you John and Angie,
By God 's grace we are safe but the powers of darkness are very active all around us. The local HQ of a right wing Hindu organization is down the road from our church and we 've had strange people visit us . We 've been attacked but the Lord has rescued us.

Kathryn said...

Amrita, I pray that eyes may be opened to see the "chariots of fire" (reference 2 Kings 6:17) that surround you and others in the Lord's righteousness. His justice will prevail! Blessings, Kathryn

Kate said...

Well, it would help if the authorities were able to actually aprehend the murderer, in order to prove that the local Chrisitans are not involved.

Sheryl said...

wow, amrita! praying for you and your family. praying that the Truth will prevail.
love to you,

rauf said...

Amrita ji,
Thank you for your kind words.
Being a godless animal perhaps you would consider me as an unfortunate person, but i feel i am most fortunate detatching myself from all philosophies at a young age, now i am 60. Today i consider myself no superior to an ant or a monkey, infact i envy them.

When you drink a glass of water Amrita ji, along with water we drink millions of invisible bacteria. Our 4.7 billion year old world is one such invisible planet, perhaps smaller than a single bacteria in a map of our ever expanding multiverse, we have more than one universe, with trillions and trillions of galaxies like ours. In such a tiny and invisible planet we have kings and queens, we have superior and inferior races, we have untouchables, we have drawn lines divided ourselves in countries, we have divided ourselves in different philosophies intolerant of each other, resulting in bloodshed.
i spend most of my time in the forests Amrita ji, and i am yet to come across a rich or a poor monkey.

monsoon dreams said...

let peace prevail,and no innocent blood be shed.thats all i pray.

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,
As I said in my post, in the comment section, in response to your comment - Hindu bigots have to STOP victimizing Christian. Right now!
Hope your mother was pleased with my support. Oh yes, not supporting Christians in the country is like forgetting all the good they did and continue to do for me.

Amrita said...

Thank you dear friends for your comments.

Salam Rauf Sahib,

You are an excellent photographer and your comments are brilliant and you are also a precious person created by a Glorious Creator God.
One doesn 't need any philosophy to believe in God.You simply have to believe that He is there.
And our simian friends are very rich, as they don 't have to work for a living...they can feed on the forest wealth and make their home in it for free!

I read the discussion you had with one of your commenters on your blog. i will respond to that.We are members of one human race.My heart breaks for the liitle children and women held hostage by millitants in Kashmir (thank God they were rescued) and flood stricken people of Bihar and victims of Mamata Bannerji 's political terrorism in Singur.We have been commanded by God to uphold mercy and justice.

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
we saw reports from the flood on TV this very night.
I am praying for the victims of the flood and of religious crimes. I often think it's not so much about religion as of power.
Hitler blamed the Jews, in India the Christians are serving as scapegoats.
Am praying special for the day of tomorrow.
From Felisol

Mark said...

Sorry to read elsewhere as well about the media bias against Christians. As for the situation for those in Orissa, "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you." 2 Thess 2:16

Saija said...

unrest every where ...
one day it will be set right ...
in the meantime, those who reflect God's glory in their daily lives are doing their all in difficult situations ...

blessings on you ...

Paul Nixon said...

Orissa does seem to have an unpleasant recent history at least, of persecuting Christians. I don't recall reading quite so many stories of Christian persecution in other states in India.

I was in Orissa in 2001 (mostly in Koraput district working on leprosy/TB/HIV projects) and the Graham Stains murder was still reasonably big news there. I think his widow was just returning and she seemed to me to be a remarkable woman.

Amrita said...

Hi Chailey, thanks for visiting my blog. i enjoy reading your British perspective.

You are right Orissa leads the way in Christian persecution in India.

My nephew was studying with Graham Stains daughter in Hebron School, Ooty (its a British school), she left after completing year 12.
Mrs Stains is certainly a very remarkable lady.