Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee

nytimes.com/2008/10/13/world/asia/13india.html?hp

**Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee **

By SOMINI SENGUPTA
BOREPANGA, India — The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop.
They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

“ ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ”
India, the world’s most populous democracy and officially a secular nation, is today haunted by a stark assault on one of its fundamental freedoms. Here in eastern Orissa State, riven by six weeks of religious clashes, Christian families like the Digals say they are being forced to abandon their faith in exchange for their safety.

The forced conversions come amid widening attacks on Christians here and in at least five other states across the country, as India prepares for national elections next spring.

The clash of faiths has cut a wide swath of panic and destruction through these once quiet hamlets fed by paddy fields and jackfruit trees. Here in Kandhamal, the district that has seen the greatest violence, more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed, including the tin-roofed Baptist prayer hall where the Digals worshiped. Today it is a heap of rubble on an empty field, where cows blithely graze.

Across this ghastly terrain lie the singed remains of mud-and-thatch homes. Christian-owned businesses have been systematically attacked. Orange flags (orange is the sacred color of Hinduism) flutter triumphantly above the rooftops of houses and storefronts.
India is no stranger to religious violence between Christians, who make up about 2 percent of the population, and India’s Hindu-majority of 1.1 billion people. But this most recent spasm is the most intense in years.

In those places they can’t kill us they seem to be able to have laws passed to limit our religious freedoms. And if this is not enough they have even been able to get some countries to allow two legal systems.

:shrug: So what are we going to do about it? Are we just going to sit back and say "noting we can do’? We all need to stand up for the right of every religion to speak out and exist without fear.

From the Guardian guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/19/orissa-violence-india-christianity-hinduism and The Scotsman news.scotsman.com/world/Killed-or-hounded-out-.4611121.jp
From The Hindu
CAMPS OF FEAR (even after conversion Christians are hacked to pieces)
hinduonnet.com/fline/stories/20081107252202500.htm

**Kandhamal beats Gujarat in violence statistics
Farzand Ahmed
Bhubaneswar, November 5, 2008

indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19402&sectionid=4&issueid=78&Itemid=1

Clearly 1,000 deaths (official) in the entire state of Gujarat during fours months stand nowhere in comparison to 500 deaths in one district of Orissa in one month. Kandhamal is just a small district of the state.
A CPI (Marxist-Leninist) fact-finding team in its report quoted officials admitting that not less than 500 people, mostly Christians were killed in the month-long anti-Church riots in which VHP and Bajrang Dal played a direct role.
The report said: *“The official figure for deaths has been reported to be 31; however, a senior government official on the condition of anonymity informed (the team) that he himself consigned two hundred dead bodies - found from the jungle - to flames after getting them collected in a tractor. As per his estimates based on the intensity and pace of killings the number of those killed is over five hundred”. *The report signed by J. P. Minz was published in the November issue of the Liberation, CPI (ML)'s official journal.
The report further said: “In the communal fire two hundred Christian villages and 127 Church and prayer halls were either destroyed or burnt. Apart from this, schools, hospitals, hostels and convents also have been damaged. The incidents of killings, rape and loot also were carried out in addition to former incidents. The shocking fact is that all these incidents took place in full view of police and the police remained mute spectators”.

Regarding the role of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal the report said: “The victims in all the relief camps unanimously told the fact finding team that it is the VHP and Bajrang Dal cadres who have sowed the seeds of communal division in the villages. They used to organise meetings of the Kandha tribals and incite them to attack the Christian hamlets and also provided funds for doing this”.

Hitherto Naveen Patnaik believed in the official tolls of 31 but the CPI (ML)'s new revelation was likely to widen the rift between BJD of Naveen and BJP which hoped that killing of Swami and Hindu backlash would electorally help the party.

BJP is a partner of the alliance that rules Orissa.
**

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