Violence affecting the Vincentian Family in India has possible worldwide implications.  Links to in-depth reporting.

Zenit reports CHURCH PROTESTS ATTACKS IN ORISSA

John Allen reflects on worldwide implications of religious extremism in India as awake-up call.

Indian CM expresses his concerns in the following series of reports.

Dear Fr. John,
Greetings from Fr. Pratap Misal, Washington, DC.
Please do find forwarded the news about the persecution of the Christians in our mission in India.
I don’t know whether this kind of news should be published in the famvin website.  If possible, please do post it in the website.  I don’t know how to do it.
With love,
Pratap.

— On Tue, 8/26/08, Fr. Prodeep Ch. Nayak <frprodeep@yahoo.co.in> wrote:

From: Fr. Prodeep Ch. Nayak <frprodeep@yahoo.co.in>
Subject: Pray for the Mission in Orissa, India.
To: “Pratap Misal” <pratapmisal@yahoo.com>
Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2008, 8:40 AM
Dear Pradeep,
Pray for the Mission in Orissa!
Orissa is gripped once again in Communal Violence (August
24, 2008)
Late evening on 23rd of August 2008 Swami Laxanananda
Saraswati along with five other people were shot dead in his
Jalaspeta Ashram near Tumudibandha (Kandhamal District,
Orissa).  The Swami was 84 years old and as a right wing
Hindu violently opposed caw slaughter and conversion to
Christianity all through his life. He is believed to be the
main inspiration behind the Christmas 2007 riot against the
Christians in Kandhamal district of Orissa.
Ever since the murder the situation is very tense. VHP and
its allied political families have called for a bandh (road
blockade) on 26th of August. In the meantime a judicial
enquiry is ordered into this incident though many opposition
parties have called for the resignation of the Naveen
Pattnaik Government for the failure of law and order
situation in the State of Orissa..
Father Obed Khura received threatening calls three times
and the Sunebeda Police Officer In Charge has refused to
give police protection (The Church comes under his
jurisdiction). Semiliguda OIC has promised that nothing will
happen to the School. As Fr.Obed is afraid to stay alone, he
has been instructed to stay with the nuns in the school
tomorrow during the strike period.
As the Mass was coming to an end in Muniguda (closer to
Tumudibandha) two jeep loads of youth from the town entered
the compound and started shouting. The police arrived on
time and saved the situation. Three policemen are deployed
at the gate which has been destroyed by the anti-socials.
The priests and sisters are living in fear.
Missionaries of Charity from Dharmagarh, unaware of what
has happened in the previous night, were travelling to
Bhawanipatna for Sunday Mass as their priest, Fr.Abraham
Parackal was absent.  Near the jail in Bhawanipatna town
their ambulance was intercepted by anti socials and they
pelted stones and broke the glasses. All the sisters got
minor injuries as the broken glass pieces came and fell on
them. Sr.Mariabella among them got hurt by a stone as it
fell on her back. As the situation was out of hand, through
God’s providence, the police arrived and sent them back in
the same damaged vehicle to Dharmagarh. Sr.Suma and
Sr.Nirmala have been informed of this and the district
administration has assured them of protection.
The situation is tense in Jeypore and a group of police are
guarding the Church. They themselves told Fr.Bimol that some
200 people are ready to attack the Church. Fr.Bimol has
taken shelter in Precious Pearl Bhavan. There is fear that
this home for the children too may be attacked.
The situation in Mohana is tense too. There was road
blockade from 23rd night itself. Around 24 police men are in
the compound guarding the Church.
As soon as Mass got over in Goudogotho and the new PP had
taken charge, a group of 9 police men arrived to guard the
Church.
The Cathedral Compound in Berhampur too has a team of
policemen guarding the Church.
DCPB Sisters from Jubaguda were returning through
G.Udayagiri and their vehicle was torched to fire. HM
sister’s vehicle near Ainthapally (Sambalpur) was damaged
by the same anti socials protesting against the murder of
the Hindu Leader. A prayer Chapel at Tentuliapadar in
Sundargarh was set on fire as well.
Fr. Marshal Mihir Upasi

Violence Against Christians Continues Unabated after the
Murder of a Hindu Leader in Orissa

August 25, 2008
Priests, Sisters and Christians in the entire State of
Orissa spent the 24th night in fear and apprehension. As the
mortal remains of Swami Lakhanananda Saraswati was taken in
procession from Jalespata to Chakapada the supporters tuned
hostile and destroyed many Christian Institutions and
Churches. The VHP had called for a total shut down of all
life and activities in Orissa on 25th of August 2008 as a
sign of respect for the slain Hindu leader. Newspapers are
full of misleading and provocatory reports alleging that in
order to safeguard the Christian terrorists the police is
selling the theory that Maobadis (Naxalites) have murdered
the Swami and his five disciples. The State administration
and the police is not able to contain the violence.
On 25th morning Catholic Church at Phulbani was destroyed.
The Social Service Centre (Jana Vikas) and the Pastoral
Centre at Nuagam (Kontamenji) have also been destroyed. The
newly restored Seminary at Baliguda which faced the anger of
the rioting mob during Christmas was once again attacked.
The Church and Convent at Muniguda in Rayagada district was
too attacked and destroyed. Around 80 inmates under the
leadership of Fr.Pius Ekka and Sr.Marina Chacko have taken
refuge in the forest. This happened inspite of the fact that
Fr. Marshal Mihir Upasi was constantly in touch with the
State Control Office   of the Orissa Police and the SP of
Rayagada. The mob first torched the police Jeep in Muniguda
and then proceeded to the Convent and Church. On the
previous day (24th of August) the mob had already threatened
the Fathers as the Sunday Mass was getting over. The mob
kept seeking the Christian Families from house to house and
managed to destroy some of them. As a consequence taking
refuge in the families too has become very risky.
There is apprehension of an attack in Bhawanipatna too.
When Fr.Manickthan asked for protection the Superintendent
of Police expressed his inability to do anything as the mob
is so large. When Father suggested that why don’t you pass
curfew and thus stop the movement of the unruly mob, the SP
got angry and retorted that he need not give order to him.
Later in the forenoon both the ADM and the SP visited the
Church compound and inspected the law and order problem. The
Priests and sisters have decided to take refuge in
Annama’s house in the extreme corner of the compound
hidden inside the greenery.  The Malankara (one of the
non-Latin Oriental Churches in India) hostel was attacked in
Bhawanipatna, not very far from the Catholic Church, and
quite many children are hurt very badly.
Reports pouring in from Bhubaneswar confirms of sporadic
violence directed against SVD House, Loyola Hospital, XIMB,
NISWAS, Archbishop’s House and so on. Glass cascade of
Mother Mary statue and the window panes of the of the
Balasore Social Service Centre in Balasore was broken this
morning.. They seem to be apprehending that the miscreants
will return in the afternoon.
The newly constructed chapel and house of the MC Brothers
in Srasananda, which was damaged during the Christmas riot
was destroyed last night once again.
It is also reported that the Lutheran Church in Malkangiri
and Padua was destroyed by the Hindu Fundamentalists. The
chapel of Dr.K.N. Chaudhury in Barniput (the outskirt of
Jeypore from where the threat letter seems to have been
posted) was also damaged on 25th morning.
Report received so far also suggests that the Driver of the
Construction Contractor (Mr.John) was abducted by some
miscreants this morning.
Fathers and Sisters along with the children in Gumuda
station have left the mission station as they fear attack
from Hindu Fanatics on 25th night.
On 24th (Sunday) as the Congregation was coming out of the
Church in Malkangiri, a group of angry youth came and
shouted against them and made them to recite Bande Mataram.
There is so much of revenge, hatred and retaliation in the
air. After the funeral the Christians and their homes are
not safe for a few days. Let us keep our fingers crossed
that the Government takes control of the situation very
soon.
Fr. Marshal Mihir Upasi

Jyoti Niketan of Baipariguda in Koraput District is
Attacked
(August 25, 2008)
Hindu miscreants attacked Jyoti Niketan of Baipariguda in
Koraput district in the afternoon of 25th August 2008 in the
continuing violence that has engulfed the State of Orissa
after a Hindu Religious leader who opposed conversion to
Christianity was killed by some unknown group. Father Joy
Areeckal has run away to the forest and the hostel children
and his social workers are subjected to insult and
intimidation. The Mission has been destroyed along with all
that it contained. A sad twist to the story is that the
police along with the people have seized some planks and in
spite of the fact that the carpenters who are building a new
hostel building there claimed  that it was brought by
them,  yet they want that a criminal case against him
under forest act be booked and he be arrested. Mr.Routo
Desinayak, who works for an agro-entrepreneurship program
for SWAD at Boipariguda confirmed over the phone that they
are under tremendous difficulty as the
miscreants were still in the compound and no contact has
been made with Father Joy yet. Both from Bishop’s House
and Social Service Centre too no telephonic contacts could
be made with Father Joy.
In Govindapally, a mission close to Boipariguda, communal
miscreants entered the Convent and damaged the grotto of Our
Lady and the Cross of the Church yard.
In the same district Fathers and Sisters in Koraput,
Jeypore and Semiliguda are in hiding away from the Parish
centre in fear of attacks as the evening processions will be
carried out by the Hindu followers of the Swami.
In the meantime around 130 children along with Fr.Pius Ekka
and four AASC Sisters are still in the forest in Muniguda
and efforts are being made to rescue them. Constant request
made to the SP is bearing no result as of yet.
As the evening drew on and rain started pouring in the
group moved to Bhairaguda, 3 km away from Muniguda to seek
shelter in a school. The villagers came forward to feed them
with beaten rice and at the moment of this writing (at 19.22
pm on 25th August) food is being arranged by the Hindu
villagers..
Two Social Workers (Collaborators of Fr.Joy Areeckal) of
Boipariguda are arrested

Around 5.30 pm on 25th of August 2008 Mr.Routo Desinayak
and Miss Kalyani, two social workers who are collaborators
of Fr.Joy Areeckal are arrested by the local police at the
instigation of the Hindu Communal forces and are slapped
with violation of Forest Act as the Mission Centre contained
some timber for the Hostel Building that was under
construction. Fr.Joy has moved out of the mission and no
contacts could be made to ascertain his safety.  Though the
Police Officer and the Block Development Officer was not
willing the mob forced the police that Mr.Desinayak be tied
with a rope and dragged through the street till the
Forester’s Office. Miss Kalyani being a woman was spared
of this ordeal.
Fr. Thomas Chelan and a Sister (name could not be obtained)
who were manhandled and humiliated by the mob have been kept
in police custody in the pretext of giving security since
the morning of August 25th.
Fr. Marshal Mihir Upasi

Communal Violence Spreads to Sambalpur Diocese: Padanpur
and Madhupur in Bargarh District Attacked (August 25, 2008)
In Padanpur near Bolangir of West Orissa Fr.Edward Sequeira
was attacked and critically wounded. A 24 year old auxiliary
nurse who assisted the leprosy affected children of Father
Sequeira was burnt alive as the Mission Station was torched
to ashes.
Another Old Mission Centre, Madhupur, was attacked in the
afternoon and the Handmaids of Mary and Fr.Basil and
Fr.George managed to escape.
Protestant Churches at Gunupur, Malkangiri, Padua, Barniput
(Jeypore) are also destroyed.
22 Christian Families of Shanti Nagar (Givindapur) at the
foothill of Taptapani Hot Spring were assaulted and forced
to leave the village.

A Protestant Prayer Chapel in Dumerguda within the Talsara
Police jurisdiction was set on fire in Sudargarh district.
Chandra pur and Suludi Mission Destroyed by the Hindu
Fundamentalists
(August 25, 2008)
Loba, a village near Gunupur, witnessed communal tension
and the village chapel was destroyed. One of the persons
killed in the Jalaspeta Ashram was from this village and was
visiting his daughter who studied in the residential ashram
school of the Hindu Leader.
Bisamcuttack Lutheran Church has been attacked and
destroyed. The Lutheran Church runs a very famous Missionary
Hospital in this small town 50 km away from Rayagada.
In the evening of 25th August the Mission Station of
Vincentian Fathers in Suludi near Ramanaguda is destroyed.
Brother Henaro Pradhan escaped unhurt and is hiding in the
forest. Fr.Jose Kallareckal was away from the mission
visiting Berhampur.
Chandrapur Mission in Rayagada district is also destroyed
by the rioters in the evening of 25th of August. The
whereabouts of Father Shillu Sebastian and the children is
not yet known.

A handmaids of Mary Nun below 30 years of age is raped at
Nuagam on 24th of August 2008

In the continuing violence after the murder of a Hindu
Leader who opposed the conversion of the indigenous people
to Christianity, a Roman Catholic Nun of the Congregation of
the Handmaids of Mary was raped by the mob. She worked in
Dibyo Jyoti, the Pastoral Centre of the Archdiocese of
Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Father Thomas Chelan, the Director of
the Centre too was stripped and humiliated. Both are kept in
police custody. Sister Nirmala, the successor of Mother
Teresa of Culcutta, is intervening through her contacts to
rescue the nun and take her to a nursing home for treatment
and counseling.
As of 25th night, two nights after the murder of the Swami,
two priests are found missing, four are hiding in the
forest, more than 15 nuns are stuck in some places, one nun
raped, one young woman torched to death and a priest is
critically wounded and not less than 9 Missions Centres
(Parish Church, Convents, Children’s Homes) are destroyed.
This communal violence has also claimed two lives so far.
Three groups of nuns (Missionaries of Charity, Precious
Blood Sisters, Daughters of St.Anne) miraculously escaped.
However, their jeeps were set on fire.
The Government and the Police is a mute spectator to this
violence perpetrated by the majority community against the
minority Christian community which is not even three
percentage of the total population of India.
Fr. Marshal Mihir Upasi


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