BY AJAY KUMAR SINGH
BHUBANESWAR: Despite the government’s claims of normalcy, a fact-finding team has found that anti-Christian repression continues in the Kandhamal district of Orissa.
Although police contingents now guard several villages, Hindu radical groups’ social and economic boycott of Christians persists, the team reports.
The four-member group that visited Kandhamal district on Nov. 5 said lawlessness still prevails in villages with Christians living in fear and insecurity.
The district was the epicentre of unprecedented anti-Christian violence for seven weeks starting August 24, 2008.
In Bodimunda village, the team visited a Protestant pastor who now lives as a Hindu. He said he was forced to become a Hindu to save his ailing mother.
In another village, the team found a pastor who was fined 1,051 rupees (US$24) for hiring a three-wheeler taxi to take a sick Christian to hospital. The taxi driver told the team that they were fined even after complaining to the police.
The team also met a group of distraught Christians in another house. Among them was a man whose two daughters are Catholic nuns. “We are in shock. Those slightly wealthy have moved out and others are left behind,” he said.
The man alleged that the administration and the police collude with the local members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, national volunteers’ corps), the umbrella body of Hindu extremists.
The team also met a Hindu, who had to pay 5,000-rupee (US$112) fine for carrying housing materials for a Christian working with the Border Security Force.
The soldier’s mother told ucanews.com that his son left the village in disgust after the RSS confiscated the housing materials. “Our life is hell here,” she added. UCAN