India – Orissa, Christians Still Face Boycott, Forced Conversion

(Compass Direct News) – More than two years after losing relatives and property in anti-Christian violence, there is no sense of relief among survivors in India’s Orissa state, as many are still ostracized and pressured to “return” to Hinduism, according to a private investigation. “Despite the state administration’s claim of normalcy,” the preliminary report of a fact-finding team states, “a state of lawlessness and utter fear and sense of insecurity” prevails among Christians of Kandhamal district, which saw a major anti-Christian bloodbath in 2008. The team, consisting of local attorney Nicholas Barla and another identified only as Brother Marcus, along with rights activists Jugal Kishore Ranjit and Ajay Kumar Singh, visited four villages in Kandhamal on Nov. 5. In Bodimunda village in Tikabali, the team met a pastor who said he has been closely watched since Hindu extremists forced him to become a Hindu. In the same village, Hindu nationalists had also imposed a de facto ban on any private or public vehicle to ferry Christians or their belongings, said the report. Another Christian said area Hindus extremists prohibited Christians from procuring basic necessities. The team found pictures of Hindu gods in the homes of Christians who were too fearful to remove them. A woman in Gandapadar village told the team that local Hindu nationalists had given her pictures of Hindu gods to worship. “We have kept them, as they often come to check whether we have reconverted to Christianity,” she said. Almost all Christians the team met complained that the local administration had done little to protect them and suspected that officials colluded with area Hindu nationalists.

 

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