India – Fears of renewed anti Christian violence in Orissa

Barnabas Fund. Christians in Orissa are concerned that a recent series of events may provoke a renewal of anti-Christian violence over the Christmas period. On 12 December 2009, bombs were hurled against a store owned by a well-known Hindu shopkeeper in the town of Ghumusar Udayagiri in Kandhamal district. Posters making threats against activists belonging to a Hindu nationalist group appeared on the walls of the local hospital. Although these were apparently signed by the Indian Maoist party, Christians fear they will get the blame and that it may therefore trigger violence against Christians. The police have not ruled out the possibility that the bombs and the posters may even be the work of local Hindus who want to raise tensions in the area. The Christians’ concerns are based on the fact that a very similar turn of events triggered the massive anti-Christian violence in Orissa in August 2008. A prominent Hindu leader was murdered, and although Maoist extremists claimed responsibility for the murder, Christians got the blame, and subsequent protests rapidly escalated into horrific anti- Christian aggression. The timing of the latest incident, in the run-up to Christmas, also recalls the first large-scale outbreak of bloodshed against Christians in Orissa, which began at Christmas in 2007. Christians now fear that Hindu nationalists will stir up violence against them once again on the basis of a false accusation. Pray for Christians in Orissa, that they will know the peace and comfort of the Lord Jesus at this uncertain time. Pray that there will be no renewal of anti- Christian violence. Pray for harmony and stability in India, and especially that the Hindu majority will respect Christians as fellow citizens.

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