Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Revised update from Dr. John Dayal

Dr. John Dayal

Member: National Integration Council
Government of India

Secretary General: All India Christian Council (Founded 1999)
President: United Christian Action, Delhi (Founded 1992)
Imm. Past National President: All India Catholic Union (Founded 1919)

505 Link, 18 IP Extension, Delhi 110092 India
Email: johndayal@vsnl.com
Phone: 91-11-22722262 Mobile 09811021072

25 August 2008




Hon'ble Mrs., Pratibha Patil
President of India

Dear President

Greetings from a grieving community.

You are aware of the still continuing carnage against the Christian
community, mostly Dalits and Tribals, in the Kandhamal district of
Orissa and in several other districts including the state capital of
Bhubaneswar since 23rd August 2003 following the killing of Vishwa
Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, reportedly by
Maoist groups who have been operating in the state for some time.

The Christian leadership in the country has unequivocally condemned
the killing of the VHP leader and his four associates.

The Christians of Kandhamal are still nursing their wounds from the
Christmas 2007 violence, with hundreds of them still living in a
refugee camp in Barakhama. Most of the more than One hundred churches
then destroyed remain in ruins, and the burnt houses are still to be
fully rebuilt.

And yet local Sangh leaders have targeted the community in a second
wave of macabre violence.

A nun has been raped in Kandhamal, a Catholic father grievously
injured, scores of houses in villages destroyed, apart from Churches
and institutions. I attach herewith a partial list of the damage in
the violence in the past two days. We in Delhi are overwhelmed with
panic messages from Priests, pastors, nuns and common people who look
to New Delhi for help as the State machinery ahs collapsed once again.

Changing of superintendents of police as a knee jerk reaction does not
provide security to Christians. In fact, much of the violence is
taking place with the insufficient police force looking on. This had
been the case in 2007 December, as has come out in the on going
hearings of the Justice Basudeo Panigrahi Commission. Christian
delegations have informed the State Governor, the State Chief Minister
and the Home Minister of India of the dire situation of our community
in Orissa.

Dear Madame President,

This is to request you to use your powers as President of India, and
the tremendous force of your good offices, to impress on the Central
Government to rush adequate Union forces, including contingents of the
Armed Forces if required, to restore law and order and governance in
the Kandhamal region.

The consequences of any further delay, I fear, may be catastrophic for
our Christian community in the State in particular, for peace in
Orissa in general, and for the fair name of India as a secular

God Bless you

John Dayal

1. Incomplete list of death and damage in violence of 23rd-25th August 2008
2. Christian condemnation of killing of Sw. Lakshmanananda Saraswati



Christian orphanage was burnt alive on 25th August 2008 by a group of
Vishwa Hindu Parishad mob which stormed the orphanage she ran in the
district of Bargarh (Orissa). The 45-year-old woman, employed as a
cook was burnt to death on Monday when the school was set on fire by
the mob. The pastor running the school was also injured. Police
Superintendent Ashok Biswall has told news reporters.
2. NUN RAPED: A young Catholic Nun of the Cuttack Bhubaneswar diocese
working Jan Vikas Kendra, the Social Service Centre at Nuagaon in
Kandhamal was reportedly gang raped on 24th August 2008 by groups of
Hindutva extremists before the building itself was destroyed.
3. SENIOR PRIEST AND NUN INJURED: Fr Thomas, director of the Diocesan
Pastoral Centre in Kanjimendi, less than a kilometer away from the
Social Service Centre, and another Nun were injured when the centre
was attacked. They were taken to the police station in a disheveled
state as the armed mob bayed for their blood. The Pastoral centre was
then set afire.
evening lynch mobs at the block headquarters of Balliguda, in the very
heart of Kandhamal district, which had seen much violence between 24th
and 26th December 2007, attacked and destroyed a Presbytery, convent
and hostel damaging the properties.
5. The mobs in Balliguda caught hold of two boys of the Catholic
hostel and tonsured their heads.
6. PHULBANI CHURCH DAMAGED: On 25th august 2008 morning followers of
the late Lakshmanananda Saraswati damaged the Catholic Church in
Phulbani, the district headquarter town.
Teresa Brothers' residence and hospital in Srasanada, destroyed once
before and rebuilt two months ago, and beat up the patients.
Fundamentalists have targeted Priests, religious and also the Faithful
in Pobingia also.
8. BHUBANESWAR BISHOP'S HOUSE ATTACKED: On the morning of 25th August
2008, violent mobs made several attempts to enter the compounds of
Catholic Church and Archbishop's house in the heart of the Capital of
the State of Orissa. They could not enter because of the police
presence. They threw stones at the guesthouse of Archbishop's House,
damaging windows.
9. DUBURI PARISH; Another group of fundamentalists entered presbytery
in Duburi parish, managed by the SVDs and destroyed and damaged
property. Two priests of the parish are missing.
10. Mr. Jamaj Pariccha, Director of Gramya Pragati, is attacked and
his property, vehicle etc. damaged, burnt and looted.
11. A Baptist Church in Akamra Jila in Bhubaneswar is also damaged.
12. Christian institutions like St. Arnold's School (Kalinga Bihar),
AND NISWASS report some damage.
13. BOUDH DISTRICT [Adjoining Kandhamal]: Fundamentalists enter the
Catholic parish church and destroy property. People are fleeing to
safer places. But nothing seems safe.
14. Muniguda Catholic Fathers and Nuns' residence have been damaged.
15. Sambalpur HM Sister's residence (Ainthapalli) has suffered damage.
16. Padanpur: One priest is attacked and admitted to a hospital.
Hostel boys and the in charge have moved away from the place.
17. Madhupur Catholic Church currently under attack.
18. SMALL CHURCHES: Attempted violence on small churches in various
districts, including Padampur, Sambalpur near GM College, Talsera,
Dangsoroda, Narayanipatara, Muniguda, Tummiibandh, Tangrapada,
Phulbani, Balliguda, Kalingia, Chakapad, Srasanranda.
19. VILLAGE CHRISTIAN HOUSES ATTACKED: Houses attacked on forest
hamlets of Balliguda, Kanjamandi Nuaguam (K.Nuaguam), Tiangia
(G.Udayagiri), Padangiri, Tikabali.
20. KALAHANDI DISTRICT: houses burnt even though the district is more
than 300 kilometers from the place where Swami Lakshmanananda was
21. Pastor Sikandar Singh of the Pentecostal Mission beaten up and his
house burnt in Bhawanipatna.
22. Kharihar: 3 Christian shops were looted and burnt. Pastor Alok Das
and Pastor I M Senapati beaten up.
23. Aampani: Pastor David Diamond Pahar, Pastor Pravin Ship, Pastor
Pradhan and Pastor Barik beaten up and chased away with their
24. Naktikani: Mob surrounds village to attack Christians. The
government has sent forces, it is reported.

[This list is compiled with assistance from Archbishop's House,
Bhubaneswar and other sources]

From John Dayal
25 August 2008


The Church in India has unequivocally condemned the killing of Vishwa
Hindu Parishad [VHP] Orissa leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his
four colleagues in the Tumiliband region of Kandhamal district by Left
wing extremists. Still recovering from the worst ever anti Christian
violence in Indian history in December 2007, Christian organisations
have appealed for peace as the community braces for another round of
violence in the state from Hindutva groups who have sworn to avenge
Saraswati death by attacking Churches, institutions, clergy and nuns.

The following is the text of major statements issued by Church groups
condemning the VHP leaders' death:

Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar

24 August 2008

I, on behalf of the Christians of Orissa, particularly the catholic
Christians, strongly condemn the dastardly attack and violent killing
of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and five of his associates. We the
Christians abhor violence and condemn all acts of violence and
terrorism and are against all groups of people taking the law into
their own hands. We condole the death of Swami Lakshmanananda
Saraswati, a religious leader and his associates. At this critical
juncture I appeal to all for peace and communal harmony. We want good
relationship with all the communities with whom we live.

We are also concerned at the immediate outbreak of communal violence
against innocent Christians in nearby districts. Early reports suggest
that least one prayer hall in Sundergarh District has been burnt and
vehicle belonging to Daughters of the most Precious Blood has been
burnt near G. Udayagiri.

We urgently appeal to the Chief Minister and the Governor of Orissa
and at the Indian Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil to take whatever
steps are require to maintain peace and harmony in all areas of
states, to prevent further attacks on Christians and to bring to book
those responsible for the death of Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his



Press Statement by Dr John Dayal, Secretary General, and Dr Sampaul,
National Secretary for Public Affairs

The All India Christian Council is deeply concerned at the attack on
an ashram near Tumiliband in Kandhamal District of Orissa last night
in which the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati and
four of his associates were killed. This is the latest of a series of
attacks in recent months by political extremists which have left
dozens of policemen and others dead in several districts of Orissa.

We are also concerned at the immediate outbreak of communal violence
against innocent Christians in nearby districts. Early reports suggest
at least one prayer hall in Sundergarh ahs been burnt, the van of some
Catholic Nuns destroyed and the sisters themselves injured.

We urgently appeal to the Chief Minister and the Governor of Orissa
and at the Indian Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil to take whatever
steps are require to maintain peace and harmony in all areas of
states, to prevent further attacks on Christians and to bring to book
those responsible for the death of Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his

The Christian community abhors violence, condemns all acts of
terrorism and is against groups of people taking the law into their
own hands. We have had major differences with the dead VHP leader. It
has been the hate campaigns of the VHP and Sangh Parivar which led to
untold misery to Christians in the violence last Christmas. Refugees
from that violence are still living in government camps in Barakhama
under miserable conditions. But we wish peace to everyone.
We pray for peace in Orissa, one of the most undeveloped states in the country,


The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) is sad to note that
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati and five
others were murdered on Saturday August 23 allegedly by Maoist group
in Kandhamal Dist of Orissa. The Church leaders in Orissa and other
parts of the country have condemned the killing of Swami
Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his associates in the Ashram. We have
also appealed for peace and harmony in the state.

However, we are extremely sorry to find that some organizations have
pointed finger at the Christian community in Orissa for the alleged
murder of the Swami and his associates. Consequently there have been
unprovoked attacks on Christians and their institutions in Kandhamal
and surrounding areas. School at Bhadrak Town, Convent and the
computer centre at Baliguda in Kandhamal Dist, Pastoral Centre at
Baliguda in Kandhamal Dist., Social Development Centre (Jan Vikas
Kendra) at Baliguda in Kandhamal Dist., Catholic Church in Phulbani
and a Convent of the religious women at Phulbani have suffered in the
attacks which took place after the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda

We are sad to note that the extremists are attacking and vandalizing
our institutions without any reason. Incidents of arson and burning of
vehicles belonging to the Church have also been reported at Udaygiri.
Some of our religious nuns, girls and boys in the hostels have fled
from their places and taken shelter in the forest, particularly in
Kandhamal Dist. We are seriously concerned about the safety and
security of our frightened people who are innocent and yet find
themselves in a very precarious situation. The State Government has
deployed police forces in some of the areas and yet the violence has
not been contained. We request the Central Government to urgently
intervene in the matter and send additional forces to bring situation
to normalcy.
-- Rev. Dr. Babu Joseph, SVD, Spokesperson, CBCI

Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) denounces the killing of Vishwa
Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his
four associates by suspected Maoists in Orissa state's Kandhamal
district on August 23. While deeply saddened by the weeklong spate of
attacks that hit Kandhamal district during last Christmas, EFI, as a
representative of the evangelical church in India, stands against
every act of violence and terrorism.

EFI also regrets that vested interests among the various Hindu
nationalist groups are trying to blame local Christians for the act,
as reflected in the acts of vandalism and arson reported from
Kandhamal after the attack on Saraswati ashram.

EFI appeals to the central, state and district authorities to take all
possible measures to maintain peace and calm in Kandhamal. EFI also
calls for the Christian community in India and abroad to pray for
protection of the Christians in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa.
-- Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India
Prashant. A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, Ahmedabad,
Gujarat, India

We condemn the killing of Swami Saraswati and four of his associates
during the attack on the VHP Ashram in the Kandhamal District of
Orissa on Saturday 23rd August 2008. We sympathize with the bereaved
members of the families who have lost their loved ones.

We call upon the Orissa and the Central Governments to do all in their
power to bring to book immediately, those responsible for this
dastardly act; that anti-social elements do not take law and order
into their own hands and above all, to ensure that peace and calm
prevail in the area, and in other parts of Orissa.

Violence, for whatever the provocation, is non-acceptable, and will
definitely not help achieve the goals for which these acts are
committed. We therefore call upon all those responsible for these acts
and to eschew violence immediately. No violence can be justified, for
whatever the reason. However, for the last several months, the
Government of Orissa has allowed some fascist and fundamentalist
forces to terrorize the poor, the marginalized and the minorities of
the State. These forces have carried on their virulent propaganda and
their violent acts with apparent immunity.

There has been a total abdication of responsibility by the Government
of Orissa and the concerned authorities, like the police. They should
now also be held totally responsible for these deaths and for allowing
the situation to go out of control. Sufficient warning has been given
to the Orissa Government, of the deteriorating situation, as early as
in September 2006, with the publication of "Communalism in Orissa" -
the Report of the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human
Rights - headed by Justice K. K. Usha (Retd.) former Chief Justice of
the Kerala High Court. It may still not be too late to ensure that
the Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of the people of Orissa are not
merely guaranteed by also protected by the State.

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj, Director