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Problems in Orissa


There has been a fresh outbreak of problems for Christians in Orissa. Little has been published in our press but there is a wealth of material by email and on websites from India. A selection is given below.

An email from Bishop Bijay Nyak June 2009
Click here for email

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Then there is a statement of the original problems of late 2007 early 2008.

Sunday Nov 2nd is a Day of Prayer for Orissa. Click here for some resource material which could be used on Nov 2 or at any time to suit.

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In an e-mail of late August 2008 Bishop Bijay Nyak,Bishop of Phulbani, says:
We are under threat and depressed. Now more than eight thousand people are in the relief camp at G.Udayagiri. All the near by churches of G.udayagiri are in the relief camp. Today I heard that one of our pastors Mr. Daniel Nayak is killed. Prayer can only save us.

Later he writes the following
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For more details of the situation see the website of the Global Council of Indian Christians
And especially: this page

There is a further report here in Word format
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Three emails from the Bishop of Amritsar click here to read them

and a blog which contains some horrific details
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We also have a statement from Dr Enos das Pradhan, General secretary of the CNI. Click here for a Word version of his statement of August 2008.

and a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury Click here for it in Word format

and one from the Methodist Church
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From one of India's Independent Weeklies comes the following report
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and more information can be found here, the website of the Evangelical Fellowship of India
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The earlier problems

The following is a statement from the General Secretary of the CNI, Rev Dr Enod Das Pradhan, on the problems of violence between Hindus and Christians in the state of Orissa. The Bishop of Phulbani, one of the two CNI dioceses in Orissa, visited Derbyshire in 2007.

There are also pictures of the situation in Orissa. Click here for them

Dr Pradhan's letter 9th January 2008.
Dear All,

Warm Greetings to you from the Church of North India.

The year 2007 ended with leaving a black spot of hatred and communal disturbance, at least in the state of Orissa. You may have read the news through national and international print and electronic media about the shocking and most distressing attoricities against tribal and dalit Christians in Kandhamal hill district of Orissa (where most of our CNI Churches under the Diocese of Phulbani are situated) in the Christmas week from December 22nd 2007 till January 2008. The story is tragedy foretold, of political and official condoning, if not actual support to the activities criminals and political activist spreading bigotry, the ideology of hate and violence. It is also a painful narrative of police and administrative indifference, repeated complicity and consistent incompetence. And finally it is the documentation of an utter collapse of the law and order machinery on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27the December 2007. The destruction and desecration of churches and burning of houses of the innocent people are outrageous and violates any norm of civic societies.

It is beyond doubt that the violence was premeditated, pre planned and the work of a well disciplined group to ensure simultaneous eruption across the Kandhamal district within hours of the first incident, and to sustain it for five days despite the presence of the highest police officers in the region.

I have just received a fact-finding report from the Bishop of Phulbani, The Rt. Rev. B. K. Nayak who made an extensive tour of the affected area accompanied by the Bishop of Cuttack, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Samson Das, the member of the CNI Synod Executive Committee Mr. B. D. Das and the Rt. Rev. P. K. Samantaroy, Bishop of Amritsar on the loss of properties in the the Diocese of Phulbani. It is pertinent to mention that all the troubles had been fomented by the fundamentalist groups at the time of Christmas to disrupt the church services. This is the first time in Orissa's history that church worship services could not be held in many places on the Christmas Day despite police presence. According to the reports received from Bishop Nayak 123 houses of CNI members at Barakhama were burnt down along with all belongings. Till writing of this report it is reported that the fire is burning on their houses, people are in the relief camps, out of fear some are in jungle, some are out of the district and some are missing. The situation is still critical.

TOTAL CNI CHURCHES DESTROYED:

A. Balliguda Pastorate union

1. Balliguda town Church
2. Barakhama
3. Purubhata
4. Barakhamba.
5. Sendrigam
6. Budaguda
7. Sirsipanga
8. Raningpadar
9. Medubadi

B. Udayagiri pastorate union

1. Dalagam
2. Kalingia
3. Magdingia
4. Mallipada
5. Balkided
6. Danndikia
7. Biraguda

That the Christmas Eve violence against Christians at Kandhamal and Phulbani districts of Orissa has shaken the faith and confidence of Christian minority in the State. The Church of North India , with 26 Dioceses and 5000 congregations having 1.5 million membership strongly condemns the communal violence against the Christians and we are also dismayed and shocked at the inability of the Orissa State Government to control the spread of the communal tension and violence. The Synod of the Church of North India has assisted the Diocese of Phulbani in providing relief to the affected persons and we appeal to all of you to come forward in extending help in re-building the Church burnt down and damaged so that CNI members may be able to continue worshipping which is dear to their heart. We urge the Union and the State Governments and the National Commission for Minorities to deploy adequate CRP Forces in the troubled areas of Kandhamal and Phulbani District as the people are living in anxiety and fear. We have received reports that many people have taken shelter in the neighboring CNI Diocese of Sambalpur. We have also requested to make adequate security to be provided to Rt. Rev. Bijay Kumar Nayak, Bishop of Phulbani Diocese, Guduripadi, G.Udaygiri, Orissa

We urge you to pray for Bishop B. K. Nayak and the members of the Diocese of Phulbani that they may stand firm and remain true to their faith and keep witnessing through their lives at this hour of oppression and atrocities.

Yours in His Mission,
Rev. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan
GENERAL SECRETARY
SYNOD OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA