Live By The Word

India Marks 10th Year of Anti-Christian Riots

Christians in India on Aug. 25 have marked the 10th year of ‘Kandhamal Day’, infamous anti-Christian riots.

Ten years ago, a series of riots in Kandhamal, a district of Odisha, led by radical Hindus left over 100 people dead, thousands injured, 395 churches and 6, 500 homes destroyed, and 56,000 people displaced, many forced to hide in nearby forests where more died of hunger and snakebites, and over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation, and several educational, social service and health institutions were ruined and looted.

It was adversity that “should never have happened and should never happen again,” said John Barwa, the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

He said the pogrom “will always remain a black spot in the history of the traditionally peace-loving people of Odisha and independent India.”

The organized communal attack was the biggest in the history of Christian community during the last three centuries.

Barwa’s niece, Meena Lalita Barwa, a Catholic nun of the Servite order, was in Kandhamal when she and a local priest were dragged into the streets by frenzied attackers shouting, “Kill Christians!”

She was raped by at least one member of the mob before being paraded through the streets to the howls of the crowd.

The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar along with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) organized a mass on Aug. 25 for the victims of 2008 riots.

“Over the past one decade, the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar has remained close to the victims, and has been the prime driving force for the legal processes to seek justice for the victims and relief for those who have suffered,” said Barwa, according to Crux.


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