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Poor Christians Left To Their Own Fate

From: sunil damor
Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2008 9:26 PM

Hello,

After a long time, I come to you with some news from Orissa again.

Well, for the news in Kandhamal, still it is bad. Whoever (parish priests or religious) were still around, one by one, all are threatened to leave the place. So, most of them have left the area. Two days back, FCC sisters vacated the hostel of around five hundred children and walked for 15 kilometers in the forest to come to the state capital, Bhubaneswar. Yesterday in one more parish people were forced to vacate. Thus, the process is on.

Everyday one or the other village, Christian houses are burnt. Last night near Bhanjanagar, in Phiringia block, some 15 houses were burnt. The hooligans block the roads with cutting down the trees and throwing on the roads, so that no police force can come in. Neither the police nor the government is keen to solve the problem immediately. They have left the people to their own fate. Police is also afraid because the attackers in big number are destroying the police stations too in many places, so, they have to guard themselves rather than people. It has become law of jungle here.

Leave the Government alone, not even our authorities have taken the issue seriously. Of course, things have moved a bit forward, all due to the interest of a few people like Mr. John Dayal, Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, SVD, etc. But now all seem to be gone cold. All have left the poor Christians to their own fate.

People have left homes, their land (at this time of cultivation) and taken shelter in some ten relief camps, mainly ladies and girls. Many men and boys have left for unknown places in search of daily bread. As SVDs, we are trying to take up some relief work in some camps in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. We have decided to help make a big relief center, buy at least one month food provisions for the families there. We plan to buy some clothes for the people as they do not have anything except what they wore when they ran from their homes. We are thinking of accommodating some people into our vocational training centers. And, one diocese has thought of bringing the students out so that their one year does not go waste. Fr. Joseph Philip,SVD organizes teams of doctors etc. in one or two relief camps. But, in the camps, except for giving medicine, one cannot speak or do anything more.

Many of the families of the priests and religious in the archdiocese are also affected. They are forced to convert themselves to Hinduism. (We don’t use the term re-conversion because Tribals and Dalits were never Hindus). Now, all are realizing that the violence has been a more of a social and economic one, than religious. The opponents cannot not see the living standard of the Christians going up and thus they want to destroy their shops and business in the area. Today, Oriya Daily "Samaj" clearly said this through the mouth of the Maoists.

Today, the newspaper has given that Maoists have threatened revenge if the violence against minority does not stop. They have been time and again telling the press that it is they who killed Lakshmananda. But fundamentalist are putting the blame still on Christians, which is not right. The Oriya Daily says that Maoists have given press release that they will punish the ones who are destroying and threatening minorities.

Whatever may be, at present thousands and thousands have nothing except tears in their eyes and God given free air to breath.

Sunil Danor, SVD
Jharsuguda (INE)