Sunday, October 26, 2008

Indian Social Action Forum Fact-Finding Team to Orissa

By Indian Social Action Forum

24 October: Bhubaneswar

The attacks carried out on Christians living in the villages of Kandhamal district, Orissa were planned and executed by the Hindu fundamentalist groups VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal.

With the BJD-BJP combine in power, the state machinery did nothing to stop the criminals from having their way and the violence spread to other parts of the district, which are largely inaccessible. The murder of Laxmananda Saraswati was used as a trigger to instigate large scale violence.

A visit by a team from Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) in the affected areas on October 22-23, revealed the atrocities carried out on the people who have also been living in the same areas with their neighbours from other communities for the last few decades.

Though Maoists claimed responsibility for the killing of Laxmananda Saraswati, the state government so far has yet to make any breakthrough in the case. Nor has it been able to pinpoint who carried out the attacks.

From the night of August 23, mobs shouting slogans for Bajrang Dal and proclaiming a Hindu Rashtra went around the villages carrying arms before attacking houses belonging to Christians. In most of the cases, outsiders guided by a section of the villagers led the attacks. Though, the district administration claims to have arrested around 650 people involved in the riot, some of the master-minds are still at large.

The attackers didn't spare women and handicapped (one of whom was burnt to death in Gadaragam). Houses were ransacked and set on fire, belongings stolen. Remains of churches at Rupagam bore grim evidence of the hatred with which the attackers carried out their plans. A woman Salima Pradhan of Gadaragam couldn't flee from the village and is living in the ruins of the houses where her relatives once lived. The woman has received no assistance from the administration and is begging for food.

Another case in point is Beheragam where as many as 40 houses were burned. The residents managed to escape to the adjoining forest areas and survived. Hardly any of them have been able to return to their homes. Though, the administration has closed down one camp at Bariguda (where the refugees have returned home) in the rest of the camps like the ones in G. Udaygiri it will still take some time for the villagers to feel secure and return home. Those staying in the camps are afraid of another round of violence and don't want to return home.

Even the presence of CRPF has done little to boost their confidence. Some of the camp dwellers told the fact-finding team that only those who converted to Hinduism are being allowed in. They told the fact-finding team that their relatives were forced to tonsure their heads and go through a purification ritual before they were allowed to return. Posters claiming that the Hindu country is for Hindus still remain. In a burnt down house at Gadaragam, one such poster still remains.

There are some more villagers who have fled to Bhubanaeswar and living in camps. None of them are willing to go back to their homes right now.

The refugees point towards a school Gurukul Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya started by Laxmananda Saraswati at Chakapada from where the anti-Christian feelings are being encouraged. They believe the villages in Kandhamal won't be any safer till the school remain.

At the camps, the people are surviving on the bare minimum. For a family of 10 only two blankets have been provided. There are no less than 3000 people staying in filthy conditions. Among them are the elderly, sick and pregnant women. As many as 40 schools are closed down and the students about to appear for Board exams face an uncertain future.

The team urges the Government to immediately:
# Arrests all culprits and restore rule of law
# Provide adequate facilities in the relief camps
# Institute a Judicial inquiry by a sitting Judge into the event
# Provide adequate compensation to all victims
# Provide proper rehabilitation of all displaced.

Composition of the team:
1. Chittaranjan Singh, writer/Human rights activist, National Organising Secretary -PUCL, Uttar Pradesh
2. Dr. Ms. Shiamala Baby, gender activist - Director, Forward, Tamil Nadu
3. Dr. Ms. Saroop Dhruv, poetess/writer/activist, Ahmedabad
4. Dhirendra Panda, activist, Bhubaneswar.
Accompanied by media team of:
1. Arnab Ganguly, Special Correspondent, Times of India, Kolkata
2. Ms. Bala Chauhan, Chief of Bureau (investigation), Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore.
3. Prashant Nanda, Special Correspondent, IANS, Delhi
4. Bhupen Singh, writer & news producer, ZEE NEWS, Delhi

Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
A124/6 1st floor, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi 110 016. INDIA
Tel: +91-11-26517814/ 65663958

Bajrang Dal, VHP responsible for Indore riots: NCM

Note: This is not connected with Christian persecution, but the persecution and anti-propaganda against another minority community in India. The perpetrators are the same: VHP and Bajrang Dal.

New Delhi, October 26: Holding the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad responsible for the July riots in Indore, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has demanded action against both organisations in its report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a few days back.

Copies of the report have also been submitted to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Ministry for Minority Affairs A R Antulay, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and some other Union ministers.

"We have in our report said that proper action should be taken against Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad," NCM Chairman Md Shafi Qureshi said on Sunday.

On being asked whether the Commission has sought a ban on them, Qureshi quipped, "Action includes ban as well."

Earlier a three-member NCM team led by Qureshi visited the affected areas including Pandrinath, Chhatripura, Khajrana and Malharganj to take stock of communal violence that erupted in and around Indore during the 'Bharat Bandh' call given by VHP over the Amarnath land transfer issue.

Violence had mainly centered at Khajrana and Juhi Risala near Indore then. According to the report, a total of eight persons were killed in the violence. Seven among them were from the minority community.

Sources said the Commission has rubbished the contention of Madhya Pradesh PWD Minister Kailash Vijay Vargiya that SIMI was behind the riots and categorically said that it was aimed at diverting the attention of the country from real culprits of violence.

"Blaming SIMI for violence at Khajrana is a blatant lie," the Commission said in the report.

Taking strong exception to the use of licenced firearms by a section of people during the clashes, the Commission pulled up the state government for making "no efforts" to get such weapons deposited in police stations in time.

"Had the administration got the arms deposited in time, firings and resultant violence could have been averted," NCM Chairman Qureshi said.

The report further said the commission was told that licence holders were either "associated with or have close links with VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP".

Noting that the "root cause of the violence lies in bandh call", the Commission criticised the state government for allowing a number of processions during the shutdown, which led to further deterioration of the already tense atmosphere.

The Commission also refuted the state police version that three youths died in exchange of fire between two groups at Khajrana.

"It was one-sided firing by a section of the people, who were enforcing the VHP 'bandh' or supporting it and there was no firing by people from the minority community, who were retaliating by pelting stones," the report said.

The commission has also taken serious note of the fact that the police resorted to firing at Juna Risala without any magisterial order that led the deaths of two youths from the minority community.


Orissa to rebuild damaged churches in Kandhamal

25 Oct 2008, 2303 hrs IST, IANS

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa government on Saturday changed its stance and said it will rebuild churches damaged in Kandhamal district during the communal violence that killed 37 people and rendered thousands homeless.
"The state government has asked the district administration to submit a report on the church damage within a fortnight," home secretary T.K. Mishra told reporters.
The state government earlier this week had rejected Bhubaneswar-Cuttack archbishop Raphael Cheenath's demand for a Rs.30 million assistance for the reconstruction of damaged and demolished churches saying that giving grants to religious places was against its secular ethos.
The change of stance came after the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the state to "take a generous view" of the matter.
The court had asked the government to identify the damaged churches, assess the extent of the damage and take steps towards rebuilding them.
Kandhamal district witnessed communal violence following the killing of a Hindu leader and four of his aides Aug 23 in his Ashram at Jaleshpata.
Officials on Saturday said normalcy was returning to the region as there was no major violence there since September 30.


Pregnant women helpless at Orissa relief camps

Kandhamal, Orissa (IANS): Pregnant women are the worst sufferers in the relief camps for victims of anti-Christian violence. Their houses burnt down, over two dozen women have given birth during their stay in the makeshift tents in the last two months and many more are expecting.

Besides sleeping on the ground, with just a plastic mat to lie upon even though it gets cold at night, and eating just dal and rice, they have to cope with inadequate medical attention at several relief camps — far from the comfort of their homes.

"What can we do? We have no homes in our village," said Sarita Nayak, 25, a pregnant woman in a relief camp in G. Udaygiri town, around 350 km from Bhubaneswar.

"Over 30 babies have been born in the last two months and scores of women are in an advanced stage of pregnancy. This is a bad time for all of us," Nayak told a visiting IANS correspondent.

The lack of nutritious food is not lost even on poor people like her.

Nayak, the wife of a daily wage labourer from Gadaguda village, said she had not eaten a single egg in the last two months — ever since the attacks on Christians began in Orissa, triggered by the killing of a Hindu leader.

"We are poor people. Had I been at my home, I would have taken a lot of spinach along with rice... and some milk also," she said.

In the ninth month of her pregnancy, she blamed the anti-Christian violence for her condition, but said: "At least we are alive here. They burnt down our house. We fled the village for fear of life," she said.

Lilabati Pradhan, a 75-year-old woman at the relief camp, agreed. "Something is better than nothing. But our pregnant women are suffering a lot," she said.

The district administration has deployed an Auxiliary Nurse-Midwive (ANM) and some accredited social health workers in every camp to take care of the women and children.

"At least seven women have delivered babies from our camp and 39 more are expecting. Some are in the advanced stage," said Sukesani Pradhan, the ANM in charge of a camp inside a high school campus in G. Udaygiri.

"We are checking their weight regularly and a doctor is visiting the campus as well. Once they report pain, we shift them to a nearby primary health centre," Pradhan added. She said all the new mothers are in hospital.

At least 3,200 people, of whom over 55 per cent are women and girls, are staying in the relief camp. There are seven such relief camps across Kandhamal in which over 11,000 displaced Christians are passing difficult days.

Aparajita Nayak, another pregnant woman in the same town, said: "I don't know why this is happening. I don't want to sleep on the ground, but I am happy here."

According to District Collector Krishan Kumar, "At least 23,000 people were living in these camps but over 12,000 have already left the camps for their villages."

Ever since the killing of Swami Laxmanananda, a Hindu religious leader, and four of his supporters by unidentified gunmen August 23, anti-Christian violence has been simmering in Kandhamal. While Maoist extremists have claimed responsibility for the murders, his supporters have been insisting that Christians are behind the murder. Orissa Police are investigating the case.

At least 38 people, including a CRPF personnel, have lost their lives in communal clashes and the fighting with security men following the violence.


Friday, October 24, 2008

‘Where is that sister…Come let us rape her, the crowd shouted’

New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS)

"I hid myself under the staircase. The crowd was shouting ‘where is that sister. Come let us rape her, at least 100 people should rape.’”Her head down, her bespectacled face wrapped with a printed scarf, her voice steady except for once when she broke down and sobbed, a nun Friday recounted before a stunned nation the horror of her rape two months ago in Orissa’s Kandhamal district at the hands of a mob baying for vengeance for the killing of a Hindu leader.

Appearing live on TV news channels, the nun narrated her ordeal in the Indian capital, where she was brought by activists, and the way the state government and political parties had turned a blind eye to her suffering.

The press conference was held at the Indian Social Institute. Flanked by Christian leaders, the nun read out her handwritten statement that often made quite a few in the audience wince in horror.

The nun said a mob of 40-50 people dragged her out from the house of a “Hindu gentleman” where she was hiding, ripped off her clothes and raped her on a verandah strewn with glass.

“They pulled out my saree and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me on the verandah,” the nun, who did not take any questions, recounted in a choked voice of the Aug 25 incident.

“When it was over, I managed to get up and put (on) my petticoat and sari,” she said with her head bowed, stirring the conscience of a secular country that has been shaken by recent assaults by Hindu fanatics on minorities in Orissa and Karnataka states.

The nun recounted her story here two days after the Supreme Court ruled out an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged rape and asked her to cooperate with the state police in the investigation. She had not made a public appearance after the incident was reported.

It was a painful journey the Indian nun had to endure all the way from Bhubaneswar to New Delhi to draw attention to her plight because, as she herself has said in the past, she had lost faith in the Orissa Police to bring to book the perpetrators, reported to belong to the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal.

The alleged rape took place two days after the killing of a prominent Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and four of his associates in his ashram in Kandhamal. The killing triggered widespread anti-Christian attacks in the district.

Not surprisingly, at the end of the 15-minute hair-raising narrative, the nun was in no frame of mind to take questions and was quickly ushered out of the room by another nun and an advocate.

After the rape, the nun and Father Thomas Chellantharayil were made to walk on the road to Nuagaon market, which was half a kilometre away.

“They made to fold our hands and walk. I was with petticoat and sari as they had already torn away my blouse and undergarments. They tried to strip (me) even there but I resisted and they went on beating me with hands on my cheeks and head and with sticks on my back several times,” the nun said.

Personnel of the Orissa Special Armed Police (OSAP) were present at the spot but didn’t even attempt to intervene, the nun alleged.

“When we reached the marketplace about a dozen of OSAP policemen were there. I went to them asking to protect me and I sat in between two policemen. But they did not move. One from the crowd again pulled out from there and they wanted to lock us in the temple mandap,” she recounted.

Eventually, the nun and the priest managed to find their way to a police station, where the officials initially refused to register a complaint. They relented only after she underwent a medical examination and then too, what was recorded was an extremely watered down version of the incident, the nun said.

Replying to queries, the Archbishop of Delhi, Father Dominic Emmanuel, said the nun had come to Delhi in the hope that the Supreme Court would reverse its decision against ordering a enquiry into the incident that has sent shock waves throughout the country with the Pope expressing sadness over reports of anti-Christian assaults in India and European leaders seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in the matter.

At least 36 people have died, thousands have been rendered homeless and dozens of Christians shrines vandalised in violence that erupted in the coastal Indian state after the killing of the Hindu religious leader.

The Supreme Court had Wednesday said “it does not feel the need to have a CBI inquiry, at the moment”.

Dominic said that since the decision was “for the moment”, the nun’s open admission and “narration of injustice under the state system would make the requirement felt”.


Statement of the Nun who was raped in Orissa

Statement of Orissa rape victim Sr. Meena

Sister Meena
On 24th August, around 4.30 pm, hearing the shouting of a large crowd, at the gate of Divya Jyoti Pastoral Centre, I ran out through the back door and escaped to the forest along with others. We saw our house going up in flames. Around 8.30 p.m. we came out of the forest and went to the house of a Hindu gentle man who gave us shelter.

On 25th August, around 1.30 p.m., the mob entered the room where I was staying in Prahald's house, one of them slapped me on my face, caught my hair and pulled me out of the house. Two of them were holding my neck to cut off my head. Others told them to take me out to the road, I saw Fr. Thomas Chellan also being taken out and being beaten. The mob consisting of 40-50 men was armed with lathis, axes, spades, crowbars, iron rods, sickles etc. They took both of us to the main road. Then they led us to the burnt down Jan Vikas building saying that they were going to throw us into the smoldering fire.

When we reached the Jan Vikas building, they threw us to the verandah on the way to the dinning room, which was full of ashes and broken glass pieces. One of them tore my blouse and others my undergarments. Father Thomas Chellan protested but they beat him and pulled him out from there. They pulled out my saree and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me on the verandah mentioned above. When it was over, I managed to get up and put my petticoat and saree. The another young man whom I can identify caught me and took me to a room near the staircase. He opened his pants and was attempting to rape me when the crowd reached there. One man in the crowd told him not to do any further harm and so he left me. I will be able to identify the person who raped me and other three persons who stepped on my hands and tore my saree etc.

I hid myself under the staircase. The crowd was shouting' where is that sister, come let us rape her, at least 100 people rape. They found me under the staircase and took me out to the road. There I saw Fr. Chellan was kneeling down and the crowd was beating him with hands and sticks. They were searching for a rope to tie both of us together to burn us in fire. Someone suggested to make us parade naked. They made us to walk on the road till Nwagaon market which was half a kilometer from there. They made us to fold our hands and walk. I was with petticoat and saree as they had already torn away my blouse and undergarments. They tried to strip even there but I resisted and they went on beating me with hands on my cheeks and head and with sticks on my back several times.

When we reached the market place a dozen of OSAP policemen were there. I went to them asking to protect me and I sat in between two policemen but they did not move. One from the crowd again pulled me out from there and they wanted to lock us in their temple mandap. The crowd led me and Fr. Thomas Chellan to the Nuagaon block building saying that they will hand us over to B.D.O. From there along with the block officer the mob took us to the police outpost, Nuagaon, other police men remained far.

The mob said that they will comeback after eating and one of them who attacked me remained back in the police outpost. Policemen then came to police outpost. They were talking very friendly with the man who had attacked me and stayed back . In police outpost we remained until the inspector incharge of Balliguda with his police team came and took us to Balliguda. They were afraid to take us straight to the police station and they kept us sometime in jeep in the garage, from there they brought us to the station. The inspector inchareg and other two government officers took me privately and asked whatever happened to me. I narrated every thing in detail to the police, how I was attacked, raped, taken away from policemen, paraded half naked and how the police men did not help me when I asked for help while weeping bitterly. I saw the inspector writing down. The inspector asked me "are you interested in filing FIR?" Do you now what will be the consequence? At about 10.00 p.m., I was taken for medical check up accompanied by a lady police officer to Balliguda Hospital. They were afraid to keep us in police station, saying that the mob may attack police station. So the police took us to the IB (inspection bungalow) where CRP men were camping.

On 26/08/08 around 9.00 a.m. we were taken to Baliguda Police Station. When I was writing the FIR, the Inspector In-Charge (IIC) asked me to hurry up and not to write in detail. When I started writing about the police, the I .I. C told me this is not the way to write FIR, make it short. Sot I re-wrote it for the third time in one and half page. I filed the FIR, but I was not given a copy of it.

At around 4.00 pm the inspector in charge of Balliguda police station along with some other government officers put us in the OSRTC bus to Bhubaneshwar along with other stranded passengers. Police were there till Rangamati where all passengers had their supper. After that I did not see the police. We got down near Nayagarh and traveled in private vehicle and reached Bhubaneshwar around 2.00 am on 27th August.

State police failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers, they were friendly with the attackers, and they tried their best that I did not register an FIR, not make complaints against police, police did not take down my statement as I narrated in detail and they abandoned me half of the way. I was raped and now I don't want to be victimized by the Orissa Police. I want C.B.I enquiry. God bless India, God bless you all.

Sr. Meena

Raped Nun tells her story

Raped Orissa nun narrates her tale

Friday, 24 October , 2008, 17:47

New Delhi: With a scarf covering her head and face, a sobbing nun who was allegedly raped by a mob in Orissa's Kandhamal district, appeared before the media on Friday to relate her sordid tale and lamented the state police's failure to help her.

Visibly shaken and seemingly not in a state to take any queries, she read out her own handwritten statement giving vivid details of the incident. She left soon after that.

The Archbishop of Cuttack, Raphael Cheenath, who had recently moved the Supreme Court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying that the nun had lost faith in the state police, also accompanied her in the conference. He also did not entertain any questions.

In her written complaint in the district on August 26, two days after the incident, the nun alleged that a mob of about 40 to 50 armed men attacked a house at K Nuagaon village where she along with a priest, Father Thomas Chellantharayil, had taken shelter after their centre was attacked.

The mob dragged her and the priest and took them to the deserted office of an NGO where she was allegedly stripped and raped. The priest was doused with petrol and beaten up.

They also paraded her naked on the streets, she alleged, saying that the incident occurred in the presence of a dozen policemen.


Indian nun recounts rape ordeal

Fri, Oct 24, 2008

NEW DELHI - A nun who was allegedly raped during recent anti-Christian violence in eastern India demanded a federal probe Friday, and accused local police of shielding her attackers.

The nun was reportedly assaulted by a rioting mob on August 25, days after the murder of a Hindu priest sparked attacks by Hindu extremists on the Christian community in coastal Orissa state.

More than half-a-dozen people have been arrested over the incident.

But Mina Barwa told reporters in New Delhi that she had little faith in local police.

Barwa, 29, said she was dragged to a burned-out Christian home where two men held her down and a third raped her. She was then beaten with sticks and paraded semi-naked in the streets as mobs threatened to gang rape her.

"They pulled out my sari and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me," said Barwa, who covered her face with a scarf while speaking.

She was then paraded in the streets, along with a priest.

"They had already torn away my blouse and undergarments," she said. "And they went on beating me with hands on my cheeks and head and with sticks on my back."

At least 35 people died in weeks of anti-Christian attacks in Orissa and nearly 50,000 fled their homes. Many of them remain in state-run shelters.

Pope Benedict XVI strongly condemned the violence.

This week, India's Supreme Court rejected a plea by a Catholic bishop for a federal investigation into the alleged rape, saying the matter should be probed by the Orissa police.

Religious clashes erupt periodically in India where only 2.3 percent of the more than 1.1 billion population are practising Christians.

Hardline Hindu groups accuse missionaries of bribing poor tribes people and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity by offering free education and health care.



Orissa police friendly with attackers, says 'raped' nun

New Delhi, October 24: : Two months after a nun was allegedly raped during the communal violence in Orissa, the victim on Friday came out in public for the first time recounting her traumatic experience and demanded a CBI probe into the incident, charging police of being "friendly" with attackers.

With her face masked, the bespectacled nun in her early thirties accused the Orissa police of failing to protect her from attackers and not being responsive.

Reading out from a four-page hand-written statement at a packed press conference, Sister Meena said she was dragged by a mob of 40-50 people, her clothes ripped apart and was raped on a verandah strewn with glass pieces as two of the attackers stood on her hands.

"They pulled out my saree and one of them stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me on the verandah," the nun, who did not take any questions, recounted in a choked voice.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SC declines plea for CBI inquiry into alleged rape of nun

New Delhi, Oct 22 (PTI) The Supreme Court today declined to hand over to CBI the investigation into the alleged rape of a nun during the on-going communal violence in Orissa.
"At this stage we do not think that handing over the investigation into the case from the state police to the CBI is in the interest of the victim as well as in the interest of justice. We think that the victim will cooperate with the state police," a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.
The Bench noted that the victim has left the area and was refusing to participate in the Test Identification Parade (TIP), though nine persons have been arrested in connection with the alleged rape.
On the issue of compensation for damage caused to churches during the communal riots, the Bench asked the Orissa Government to assess the damage and assist in re-building them.
The apex Court said that proceedings in cases arising out of the violence will have to be conducted by setting up fast track courts.
Further, the Bench said that the central para-military forces provided to the state government for maintaining law and order in riot-hit area will remain there till December-end in view of the upcoming festival of Christmas.
The Archbishop of Cuttack had in a petition sought Rs three crore compensation for demolition of Churches in the anti-Christian riots, while seeking a CBI inquiry into attacks on Christians.
He alleged that Orissa government was not taking steps to arrest the culprits who allegedly raped and paraded the nun naked on August 25.


Click here for source

Center to file affidavit in Nun Rape case

Submitted by Jyoti Prakash

The Union Govt. will file an additional affidavit in connection with the Kandhamal violence. The Supreme Court has permitted center's plea in this regard. Meanwhile the court will hear today the petition demanding CBI probe into the rape and humiliation of a Christian Nun.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices P Sathasivam and P M Panchal adjourned the hearing for a day on 21st of October. The archbishop of Cuttack Raphel Cheenath has filed the petition seeking CBI enquiry and compensation of three crores for the damaged churches of Orissa. He filed the petition on 12th of this month.

The Navin Patnaik government has refused to provide Rs 3 crore for the reconstruction and restoration of Churches.  The state Govt. in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court said that it is against the secular policy of the state government to provide funds for religious places.

At the same time Orissa government has said 'NO' to the demand of CBI probe. The Govt. said, the Crime Branch of the state police was investigating the matter smoothly and a few arrests have also been made in the case.

Click here for source

Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament) adjourns after uproar over attack on Christians in Orissa

New Delhi, Oct 22 (PTI) Opposition BJP and ruling Congress members today clashed in the Rajya Sabha over the issue of attack on Christians in Orissa, leading to abrupt adjournment of the House.
Trouble broke out when Congress member Shantaram Laxman Naik rose to read his Zero Hour notice on the issue, provoking BJP members who strongly protested against raising state matters. Orissa is ruled by BJD-BJP coalition.
Rudra Narayan Pany (BJP) led the opposition attack which was immediately countered by Congress members, plunging the House into turmoil.
Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan pleaded with the agitated opposition members to restore peace as the notice had been admitted by the Chairman and he could not do anything about it.
As Pany rushed towards the podium, Khan admonished him. "I condemn this. I am warning you," he said as the BJP member had a heated argument with the Chair.
Senior BJP member S S Ahluwalia then asked Pany to take his seat and he himself entered into a verbal duel with Khan. BJD member B J Panda was also seen standing in protest.
Amidst noisy scenes, Khan asked Naik to read the notice, further infuriating the opposition members who rushed to the well.
Some members from the Congress too rushed towards the well to counter the BJP attack.
At one point of time, an agitated Pany was seen rushing towards the Congress bench and was persuaded by his senior party colleagues to go back to his place.
As the din continued, Khan adjourned the House 15 minutes before the scheduled lunch recess.


Orissa against CBI probe into nun’s rape

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Orissa government has strongly opposed in the Supreme Court an application by Archbishop of Cuttack Raphael Cheenath seeking a CBI probe into the rape of a nun by a mob at K. Nuagaon village in Kandhamal district on August 25.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan posted the matter for Tuesday. The Archbishop had filed the application in the pending writ petition for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the violent incidents in Kandhamal district. The State filed a reply stating that a judicial probe had already been ordered.

In the fresh reply, Orissa said a criminal case was registered on August 26 on a complaint of the nun against 40 to 50 unknown accused persons. The victim had not named anybody though she said she could identify the accused if they were produced before her. “Therefore the averments of the petitioner that the police knew about the identity of the attackers on August 25 are not correct and are denied,” Orissa said.

The reply said that immediately after lodging a first information report, the victim voluntarily went away from the area and was not available for investigation. The State government constituted a high-level team, mainly of women police officers, to trace the victim. Though the unavailability of the victim and other crucial witness, Father Chellan, seriously hampered the progress of investigation, the police tried their best to collect other evidence against the accused persons.

It said the investigation was being monitored at the highest level and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had condemned the heinous crime.

On the Archbishop’s plea to direct the State to award Rs. 3 crore as compensation for the demolition of churches and destruction of property, the government said “no compensation is paid for the damaged religious institutions, irrespective of their religious affiliations, as per the secular policy of the State government. However, the State has declared that Rs. 2 lakh will be paid as ex gratia for damage to schools, hospitals, etc.”

Click here for source

Orissa tops in communal violence

Tuesday, 21 October , 2008, 18:11

New Delhi: Orissa has recorded the highest number of communal violence incidents this year, resulting in the death 41 people, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

"A total of 695 cases of communal violence were reported from different states during the period in which 116 people were killed and left 1680 injured," Minister of State for Home Affairs Shakeel Ahmad said in reply to a question.

"Orissa recorded maximum of 159 cases till September 2008 which left 41 people dead and 76 injured. The ministry does not maintains record of the property destroyed during the violence," he said.

In terms of toll, Orissa was followed by Madhya Pradesh where 19 people were killed, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh where 11 people lost their lives and Karnataka where three persons were killed.

Ahmed was replying to a question by Parliament Members Naveen Jindal and P Karunakaran. He said the data included recent incidents of violence targeted against the members of Christian community in Orissa in the wake of murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others on August 23 this year.

The Minister said seven advisories and communications were sent to Orissa Government between September 25 to October 18, 2008 at various levels. "Four advisories were sent to Karnataka between September 15 to October 15, 2008," he said.

"Orissa was asked to take stringent action against persons indulging in communal violence, including identification and apprehension of elements inciting communal violence and hatred," the Minister said.

Similarly, Karnataka was also asked to take immediate steps to stop violence targeted at minority communities and their places of worship, Ahmad said.

Click here for source


1. With respect to the communal violence that began in Kandhamal district of the state of Orissa in December, 2007 the state government has appointed the Justice Basudev Panigrahi Commission of Inquiry. Similarly, with respect to the communal violence that flared up in August 2008 in different parts of Orissa, which continues unabated, the state government has appointed the Justice S.C. Mohapatra Commission of Inquiry.
2. I am profoundly distressed by the fact that the Chief Minister did not consult the victim community before deciding on the persons to head these Commissions. The very least that is expected from the state government is that it takes the victim community into confidence so that the Commissions of Inquiries are headed by persons who are in the perception of the victim community, both independent and strong willed enough to hold the officers of the state responsible. The present appointments have been made in haste disregarding the point of view of the victim communities.
3. Our experiences before the Justice Basudev Panigrahi Commission have been demoralizing to say the least. Advocates for the victims communities appeared before Justice Panigrahi and filed statements on behalf of approximately 27 victims and others. They begin full-hearted participation in the inquiry despite their reservations as to the independence of the Commission. Their confidence was shaken when the second round of attacks began and they informed Justice Panigrahi that not only the Christian community but also some of the advocates representing the victims had come under the threat of assault and they therefore requested Justice Panigrahi to adjourn the hearing for two months. Justice Panigrahi refused. It became impossible for the victim community and their advocates to participate freely in the Commission. Victims were without food, houses were being burnt, people were being killed; all this was pointed out to Justice Panigrahi and a most reasonable request was made to keep the Commission in abeyance until matters settled down.
4. Not only was the request refused but the Commission is proceeding in undue haste. Some members of the victims community undoubtedly manage to attend but the leading learn of lawyers and the main victims cannont attend. It I also very difficult to travel within Kandhamal to meet the victims and prepare them for the proceedings. They have been traumatized and are scared and need to be given confidence to speak out. This is especially so because the assailants are still roaming free in the villages and may, in all likelihood, attack the witnesses for deposing before the Commission. It was expected of the Commission that it would have some sensitivity in respect of witness protection to maintain the sanctity of the Commission proceedings, but that is not so. A formal order has been made but no protection on the ground is available.
5. This leads me to the conclusion that the Justice Panigrahi Commission is more interested in covering up for the misdeeds of the state government and its police force whose actions have been truly shameful, rather than to identity the organisations and prominent individuals behind the fascistic attacks. The Commission wishes to produce its reports in undue haste with a view to giving the Chief Minister and his officers a clean chit. In the circumstances I have no hesitation in stating that I have no faith whatsoever in the Justice Panigrahi Commission.
6. This view also holds good for the Justice S.C. Mohapatra Commission. I have nothing against Justice Panigrahi or Justice Mohapatra personally. But I do protest the appointment being made unilaterally without consultation with the victim community. He too has issued notice to the victim community in the middle of all this violence to file affidavits by the 15th of November, 2008. Such a formal approach displays insensitivity to the suffering of the victims. Victims who do not know where their next meal is coming from or those who are hiding in the forests are hardly likely to be able to identify an advocate and meet the prescribed deadline. What these Commissions need is a person of dynamism like Justice Krishna Iyer with a compassionate heart and a deep social understanding of the nature of communal riots. Perhaps the sate government out to have approached Mr. Justice B N Srikrishna who headed the Commission of Inquiry in respect of the Bombay massacres. Such judges would indeed have inspired confidence. Sadly this is not the case. I do not have the confidence that the Justice Mohapatra Commission will indeed do justice to the victims in Orissa.
7. I am constrained the release this statement because there, particularly of late, a distressing tendency to avoid naming and catching the culprits immediately and to waste time by appointing Commissions with pliant persons heading them in order to protract the conflict and to get political benefits by stigmatizing minority communities. This strategy will not work. The people of Orissa as indeed the people of the world know who the assailants are. This is no secret. What it needs is not an inquiry for the truth is well known. It needs the political will to do what is right in accordance with the Constitution of India and the laws of this land.
8. In this, I do believe that I have the support of all religious communities in India. I do believe I have the support of those professing the Hindu religion in India as well. Hinduism is a religion of peace, non-violence and tolerance. I am a profound admirer of philosophical and religious tenets of Hinduism. I can therefore say with absolutely certainty that those who attacked Christians in the name of religion are profoundly anti-hindu and anti-national. They seek to divide and thus weaken our wonderful nation of kind hearted and generous people.
9. This is why I am so utterly distressed that our national leadership does not appear to be capable of acting bravely and decisively with compassion and clarity to challenge these fascist forces that have divided the nation and committed so many horrendous crimes again and again. What is at stake in the communal attacks in Orissa is not just the future of the Christian community and its security and safety, but the future of our democratic nation itself.
10. May God help us all.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath S.V.D
Archbishop of Cuttack - Bhubaneswar

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I, The Convert

My conversion was not a change of religion; it was a change of heart

Anand Mahadevan

I was born a Brahmin and am the grandson of a priest whom I dearly loved. I am educated and my current professional standing indicates that I am reasonably intelligent. I am also affluent and my income would put me distinctly in the upper middle class bracket. I guess that would make me high-caste, rich and smart. In other words, I am not a tribal, or poor or dim-witted. And yet, I chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
The world would call me a convert to Christianity. I have no problems with that, though I see my faith more as a relationship with God through Jesus Christ than as a religion. And for the record, I can truthfully claim that no one financially induced or threatened or deceived me into converting to Christianity.
I am fiercely proud of my national identity as an Indian and I am completely at peace with my cultural identity as a Hindu. I retain the name my parents gave me. My wife, who also shares my faith, continues to go by her Hindu name. We have two children and we have given both distinctly Hindu names. In fact, many of my colleagues and acquaintances who may happen to read this column are likely to be surprised. They have no inkling about my faith, for I generally don't go about announcing it. But if someone does ask me the reason behind the joy and hope that is everpresent in my life, I am always delighted to share it with them.
I write this piece to make one point—that my conversion was not a change of religion but a change of heart. To explain this, I need to go back to my childhood in Chennai, similar to that of so many other Tamil Brahmin boys like me. My grandfather, every bit the virtuous priest, had enormous influence over me. I absolutely adored him and as a toddler, always clung to him. He too loved me to a fault. There was no wish of mine that he would not rush to fulfil. But even in my early, formative years I was unable to relate to the religion he fervently practiced. Later, in my school days, I once spent my summer holidays with him in Trichy. Memories of dawn walks with him, for the ritualistic dip in the Cauvery river, cow in tow, are still fresh in my memory. I learnt many shlokas, some of which I still remember. But I never understood any of it and none of it helped me connect with God.
When I was 19, a Christian friend with whom I used to play cricket invited me to his house for prayer. If he had invited me to a pub, or party, I would have gone too. At his home, he and his sister prayed for me. It was a simple yet delightful conversation with God that lasted all of five minutes. I don't remember it verbatim, but they articulated a prayer of blessing on my life, future, career and family. It was a simple affair—no miracles, no angels visiting. All they did was utter a deep human cry out to the creator God and His only son Jesus Christ. When they said Amen, I felt in my heart a desire to follow Jesus.
It was a faith encounter with God that I shall not even attempt to understand, rationalise or explain. I simply accept it. It is my faith. It is what I choose to believe. That evening I did not change my religion, for in reality I had none. Hinduism was my identity, not my religion. It still is.
The Christianity I acquired that evening is not a religion. On the contrary, it is an intensely intimate relationship with Jesus. Over the past fifteen years, I have come to know this Jesus even closer. I know Him as the pure and sinless Son of a Holy God. And I know Him as a dear friend to whom I pray and talk to every day—about my career, my dreams, successes, failures, finances and even my sexuality.
If I read a good book, watch a good movie (Rock On is terrific, mate), or eat a good meal at a new restaurant, I would naturally tell my friends about it.In Jesus, I have discovered a truly amazing friend, guide, leader, saviour and God. How can I not tell all my friends about Him? And if anyone does listen and he too comes to believe in Jesus, I am delighted. The world would call it a conversion; I call it a change of heart, like mine.
But I would never force anyone to listen to me, leave alone financially induce, coerce or con him into believing. That to me is pointless and against the very grain of my faith. But I do have a constitutional right to practice my faith and to preach it without deception, force or bribery. It pains to see such basic rights of mankind being cruelly violated every day in this great Hindu nation.
God bless India.

(Anand Mahadevan is the editor of Outlook Business.)

Click here for source

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Press Release All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations

All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations

B-113, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi-17 Tel: 011-26960022, Telefax: 011-26534559, Email:,

For Immediate Release

World Religious Freedom Day Marked at India's National Capital

Dharmrakshak Shri Dharma Sena Leaders Arrested For Religious Defamation

SC/ST Confederation Demands Ban on Bajrang Dal, VHP and RSS

New Delhi, October 14, 2008

All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations marked World Religious Freedom Day in India's national capital today with a large protest against communal violence and demanded ban on Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtrya Swyamseva Sangh (RSS). A Dharmrakshak Shri Dharma Sena leader arrested for defamation charge at the demonstration grounds, Jantar Matar.

Hundreds of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe government employees celebrated World Religious Freedom Day. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the architecture of the Indian constitution left Hinduism and converted to Buddhism fifty-two years ago on Oct. 14, 1956 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Thousands of Dalits joined him in an effort to become free from caste oppression.

Mr. Vijay Singh, a member of Dharmrakshak Shri Dharm Sena was arrested today at the Parliament street police station on charges of defaming literature and a poster displayed near the rally.

Members of SC/ST Confederation urged Mr. Balwinder Singh, Assistant Sub-Inspector, who was on duty and in charge of the rallies in Jantar Mantar, to arrest Mr. Vijay under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code for defaming another religion and creating enmity among religious communities. Later Mr. Vijay was taken to Parliament street police station.

The slogans displayed in the poster were from a booklet called, "Yesu main Sietan hai" – meaning "In Jesus there is Satan" by Mukesh Jain, President of Dharmrakshak Shri Dharm Sena. Another poster displayed read, "Jesus is a Murderer," "Jesus is terrorist," and "Jesus came to destroy human beings."

Dr. Udit Raj, Chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations said, "Police officials on duty should have quickly arrested Mr. Vijay Singh at very sight of the inflammatory slogans and display of picture. If this display of inflammatory and defamatory literature was done about Hinduism by Christians or other religions, many people would have been beaten."

Yesterday, NIC met in Balyogi Auditorium, Parliament House, New Delhi and this was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Dr. Udit Raj was the first speaker and at the outset he said that casteism is sometimes more dangerous than communalism. Since caste and identity divisions and rhetoric's was suggested by Dr. Udit Raj at the time of finalization of agenda, therefore, he was most appropriate member to speak on the danger of caste politics. Caste politics outweighs development, education, health and also encourages the leaders of the caste to do anything in order to capture the power. Caste politics has indirect bearings on society and its ill affects like poverty, health, corruption, illiteracy, have far reaching impact. Communalism affects individual and their properties.

Dr. John Dayal, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, along with Christian members of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) joined the rally. He said, "The victims of anti-Christian violence in Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country are mostly from a Dalit background. They need the freedom of religion which was courageously demonstrated by Ambedkar."

As the protestors marched in large group along Parliament street, they shouted, "Ban Bajrang Dal," "Ban VHP," and "Ban RSS."

Release by

(Sanjay Kumar)

Media Incharge


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Accused in nun rape case taken to Bangalore

Coimbatore, Three persons, arrested in connection with the rape of a nun from Orissa's Kandhamal district, were taken to Bangalore by a private airline on Tuesday morning.

Police said that the three -- Saroj Ghadei, Munna and Mitu Patnaik -- would be taken from there to Bhubaneshwar by another flight.
The three, arrested on October 11 from a rice mill at Palakkad in neighbouring Kerala, were brought here and lodged in the Central jail on transit warrant on Monday afternoon, for want of clearance from the Civil Aviation department, police said.
Armed with the clearance certificate, the authorities on Tuesday took the accused from the jail at around 6 am and they were flown to Bangalore at around 7.30 am, sources said.
A DSP, two inspectors and five constables from Kandhamal escorted the accused, while local police assisted them in producing necessary documents for the warrant, they said.


Eyewitness in nun rape case refuses to help Orissa police

Bhubaneswar (PTI): The lone eyewitness, a Christian priest, in the alleged rape of a nun in Orissa's Kandhamal district has refused to cooperate in the investigation, saying he did not have faith in it.

The priest, Father Chellan, who was accompanying the 29-year-old nun when she was allegedly raped at K Nuagaon during the Orissa bandh on August 25, told police officials who met him at Chelanthera in Kerala that he he did not have faith in them, DSP CB Jayshree Kundu told reporters here on Tuesday.

"He has refused to cooperate with the Orissa police," Kundu said on returning from Kerala along with the three arrested there in connection with the case on October 11.

The priest has also lodged a separate complaint on the assault by a mob.

Earlier, the state government had sought the nun's cooperation in the investigations.

Altogether eight persons have been arrested in connection with the rape which the Orissa government has described as 'barbaric and shameful'.

The state government has also suspended a police inspector for neglecting the complaint of the nun.

Click here for source

Press Statement by Archbishop of Delhi, Dr. John Dayal and Dr. Valson Thampu

14th October, 2008

[Text of Statement by Most Rev. Vincent M Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, Dr John Dayal, Secretary General, All India Christian Council and Dr Valson Thampu, Principal, St. Stephen’s College, Christian
members of the National Integration Council after its meeting on 13th October 2008 in New Delhi]

We are happy that the meeting of the National Integration Council was called at last after three years as India seemed engulfed in several instances of communal frenzy, terrorism and extremist violence., But
we were sad to see that beyond platitudes and political polemics, Union and State governments gave little indication of the political will and administrative focus required to restore confidence in the
people, especially the minorities.

We are particularly distressed to see that while the continuing anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, Orissa, Karnataka was forcefully detailed by not just the Christian members but the leaders of the Left parties, senior Jurists and Civil Society and Human Rights activists, there was no assurance forthcoming as to when the more than 50,000 Internally Displaced persons, refugees in their homeland, can return
home without being forced at gunpoint by the Bajrang Dal to become Hindus.

For us, peace would be when the last refugee is back in his home, secure in his faith, with a livelihood restored, his children’s future secured as it should be in a secular India. Hours before the NIC meeting began, arsonists had struck a Catholic church in rural Bangalore, and in Kandhamal a CRPF jawan was reportedly killed by a Sangh mob, and the mutilated body of a Christian farmer was recovered in the fields. When these were personally brought to the notice of the two chief ministers, they were
dismissive of the reports.

No less a person than the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Shafi Qureshi, a former Union Minister and Governor, had to say “the people are losing faith’ in institutions and political
parties. The Chief Minister of Orissa admitted that at least 10,000 of them are
still in government run refugee camps. Tens of thousands are in the forests or have migrated to towns\ outside Kandhamal, and even outside Orissa. The government has admitted forty dead, though we have details of 59 men and women mercilessly killed in the seven weeks of unabated mayhem.

The confrontation between Union Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil and Orissa Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik clearly showed the utter lack of coordination between the Union and State governments, the
delays in sending police forces, the gross incompetence of the State officials in deploying central troops and helicopters. Though the government claims to have arrested 1,000 men, television every day
shows scenes of violence and forcible conversions to Hinduism where no policeman seems to be present and the goons rule the landscape. The inability of the Government to provide security to relief teams to
go into the interiors has added to the misery.  We have demanded we be given adequate security to take relief to everyday affected village and to the people still hiding in the forests.

We call upon political parties to urgently reach a consensus on curbing such senseless violence which is terrorizing minorities. We have also strongly opposed the profiling of all minorities, and demand
urgent confidence building measures. On our part we have done all we can. We have met every Constitutional authority at the Centre and in the affected states, heads of political parties and have even moved the High Courts and the Supreme Court. We have had dialogues with
religious heads, and with leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. We have reaffirmed the Church’s position against forcible and fraudulent conversions. And yet some government and political groups continue to harp on the same old matter which is a non-issue to the rest of the
country, as a justification of the violence

For our own community, we have demanded an early restoration of Scheduled Caste rights for Dalit Christians, a Justice Sachhar-like commission also for assessing the development status of the Christian
community, and adequate representation in police and administrative forces of all states, no erosion of minority education rights and lifting of current difficulties in some places to open new schools. We
have also strongly demanded that government and society overview be maintained to see that institutions, especially in the primary level in rural areas, do not teach hate, and that hate crimes in their
entirety are immediately proscribed.

Other urgent steps that have long been kept in cold storage are;

1. Stern action against the hate Crimes. Hate campaigns are the incubators of communal violence.

2. Enacting of the Communal Violence Bill ensuring that it takes care
of the concerns of the Christian community and does not further arm communal administrations or further embolden impunity of communalized police elements.

3. Comprehensive relief and rehabilitation policies that wipe the tear from the eye of victims of communal violence and give them the opportunity of creating a new life.

4. Adequate representation to all minorities and underprivileged groups in the Police, Administrative and Judicial systems.

5. A thorough revamp of the education system, including a close watch on the recent rash of communally motivated village and rural schools set up by political groups, so that once again secularism, religious and cultural diversity and pluralism become the cornerstone of our nation-building.

6. Above all, the State – Parliament, Supreme Court, and Executive – must ensure that no one remains under the illusion, unfortunately very well founded at present that communal politics, hate and the demonization of religious minorities can bring them electoral
dividends in an India of the Twenty-first Century.

Mob kills CRPF jawan in Kandhmal

A staffer of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was killed by a mob as fresh violence broke out in Orissa's troubled Kandhamal district, police said Tuesday.
About six to seven unidentified people attacked two CRPF men on Monday evening at a village under Raikia police station area.
While one of them managed to escape unhurt, the other was killed in the attack, said District Superintendent of Police S Praveen Kumar.
"Police recovered the body on Monday night. He has injuries on his torso and head. It appears he was first beaten up by sticks and then killed by a sharp weapon," Kumar said.
The fresh violence is a setback for the state government, which has been claiming that normalcy is slowly returning to the region.
Kandhamal district has been witnessing communal violence since August 23 after the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four others at his ashram by unidentified gunmen.
In retaliatory violence, thousands of Christian homes and churches have been burnt and at least 36 people killed.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in New Delhi on Monday that the trouble in Kandhamal was not just a communal problem and there were many other factors compounding the problem.
The district has a long history of ill-feeling and suspicion between Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes on a variety of issues such as forcible occupation of tribal land and jobs being secured on the basis of false caste certificates among others, Patnaik had said.

Click here for source

Our take on it: If the CRPF and the police are not safe, how can the Christians be? And then how can Naveen Patnaik say that situation is getting normal.

BJP ally JD-U says attacks on Christians ‘deplorable’

New Delhi, October 14: In a veiled attack on Orissa and Karnataka, ruled by its allies BJD and BJP, the JD-U on Tuesday said the incidents of attacks on Christians in these states are ‘deplorable’ and damaging for the country.

Party chief Sharad Yadav said riots can be stopped ‘if the government had strong will power’.

"No riots can linger on for a long period if the government is committed to stop it. If the government's will power is strong riots can be stopped," Yadav said.

"The incidents in Orissa and Karnataka are damaging for the country. What has happened there is very bad. Violence being orchestrated against any community is deplorable and needs to handled sternly," Yadav said.

Supporting the demand of party leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for ‘strict and unbiased action those inciting communal violence’, Yadav said, "such elements should be crushed."

Yadav, however, supported BJP's demand for a tough law to deal with terrorism.

"Tougher law is required to tackle terrorism. Call it POTA or anything else but any kind of extremism or terrorism has to be crushed," Yadav said.

He accused the UPA Government of not doing ‘proper homework’ for Monday's National Integration Council meet.

"The government did not do any homework. The meeting was called just for the sake formality. Political parties reflect on the issues differently according to their philosophy but the government should have done proper homework for the meeting and should have forged a consensus on important issues," Yadav said.

He also criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying "the PM is singing Nirgun Bhajan in place of Sagun. I mean to say he should have proceeded with consensus in this matter taking all with him."

Click here for source

Consensus eludes NIC meet

NEW DELHI: A meeting of Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories, major political party leaders and decision makers failed to firm up

concrete proposals to tackle religious violence and terrorism.
Prevention of extremism, promotion of communal harmony and security among minorities and equitable development were some of the vital issues discussed at the 14th meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) here on Monday.
"The meeting condemned all acts of violence and overt attempts to strike at the roots of our national integrity, solidarity and pluralism and all forms of extremism, terrorism and violence and resolved to deal with all such challenges firmly and in accordance with rule of law," said Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil.
The meeting noted that the vast majority of Indians cutting across religious and cultural lines are peace-loving, believe in the spirit and idea of tolerance, communal harmony and the rule of law.
The meeting recognized that unity in diversity and communal harmony constitutes the bedrock of our nationhood and civilizational values. The meeting expressed concern at the recent incidents of communal and terrorist violence in various parts of the country.
The meeting called upon all political parties, civil society organizations, citizens' groups, religious, social and other opinion leaders, and the media to rise above narrow thinking or interests, and to act unitedly to defeat all forms of extremism and any attempt at division of our society on social, religious and communal lines.

Click here for source

Monday, October 13, 2008

Patil, Patnaik clash at NIC meet

New Delhi, Oct 13 (PTI) Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik clashed today at the National Integration Council meeting over the handling of the situation in the wake of the anti-Christian violence in the eastern state.
Addressing the meeting dominated by attacks on Christians and terrorism, Patil said he had sent more forces than asked for by the Orissa government. To this, Patnaik shot back saying that forces reached him only after five days of killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23.
The Home Minister then said that it took time since security personnel had to be pulled out of the International Border. Suggesting that urgency was shown by the Centre, Patil said that to ensure the fast dispatch of forces helicopters were even used.
Patnaik said that whatever forces were made available by the Home Ministry most of them were trainee jawans.
As the spat continued, some members said the two should not have any acrimony.
Patil later told reporters there were "some discussions" but said there was no bitterness between him and Patnaik.


The “BOOKLET” That Was Used by Bajrang Dal to Terrorize Christians!

(This article is taken from a blog

A little known booklet “Satyadarshini” was cited as one of the two the reasons behind the recent violation of Human Rights of Mangalore Christians, to begin with, the other being “forced conversions” which nobody wants to prove (though Kalladka prabhakar, RSS leader of Karnataka branch insisted during the meeting with Palemar that ‘not forced conversions, but allured conversions’)

Police have traced the origin of this booklet. Many newspapers published about the booklet and the printer, too. Here is  a translation of the same, which appeared in Vijaya Karnataka (21 Sept 2008;page no. 5), a right wing newspaper (though owned by the Times of India, known to be a “politically correct” paper):

Devendrappa Hullur was arrested on 19th Sept in Koppala, in Karnataka. He has accepted that he had printed the booklet; but did not know its content when he did. He said that he had printed the booklet 12 years ago, but was not aware that it was offensive literature.

“In 1997, I had printed 1,000 copies of the booklet for Rs. 5,000, in my Santhosh Printers, for Mr Prakash.Originally, it was a Telugu booklet written by Sanskrit pandith Paravasthu Surya Narayana Rao, who was a temple priest in Andhra Pradesh. But I don’t know why this booklet has become so controversial now.”

Who is this Devendrappa Hullur?

He belongs to the Devanga section of Hindu society. When he printed the booklet he was a Hindu. But in 2006, he embraced Christianity. “I was not forced or allured by anyone to be converted. I was fed up of life - problems everywhere. Before converting myself, I asked my wife’s permission; she consented, and I accepted Christ.” That is the testimony of the printer of this booklet which (translation) was printed in 1997; the press ceased to exist some six years ago.

Click here for source

Cong takes out peace rally in Kandhamal

Phulbani (PTI): In a bid to restore normalcy in Orissa's riot-hit Kandhamal district, Congress took out a peace rally here on Sunday.

A large number of Congress workers, including several prominent leaders, marched through the main roads of the town to spread the message of harmony among the people in the strife-torn district.

As the rally passed through the town, a large number of local residents belonging to different sections of society and communities joined the march seeking restoration of peace in the district, which had been witnessing violence since the killing of VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati on August 23.

They went around the town carrying placards and banners with messages for peace and harmony, as a 'rath' moved along amidst recitation of 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram'.

Click here for source

Orissa encouraging minority educational institutes: Patnaik

New Delhi (PTI): Under fire for his handling of communal violence in Orissa, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday reaffirmed his Government's faith in the harmonious development of all communities, with emphasis on promotion of minority-run educational institutes.

He said that state grant to minority institutes has been increased from Rs 1.81 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 2.18 crore in 2008-09 and a special drive initiated for tribal education.

"There is also a greater focus on improving literacy of SC and ST communities", he said while speaking at the National Integration Council meeting here today, inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Chief Minister said that more than 3,000 hostels for SC and ST students have been established across the state to accommodate about 3.20 lakh boarders at the pre-matric level.

He said that the aim was to improve the quality and quantity of education in SC/ST department schools where teacher-student ratio is 1:20 as against the state average of 1:40.

The state government is implementing the merit-cum-means scholarship for both pre-matric and post-matric education of students of minority communities as introduced by the Centre.

A new B.Ed college for SC and ST youths has also been announced in the state, he said.

He attributed the recent violence in Kandhamal district to "conflict of interests" between SC and STs.

Click here for source

Rape case of nun: Accused lodged in jail on transit warrant

Coimbatore-Palakkad (PTI): The three persons, arrested in connection with the rape of a nun in Orissa's Kandhamal, have been lodged in Coimbatore Central Jail as police have not yet obtained permission from the Civil Aviation department to take them to Bhubaneshwar by air.

Police said the three -- Saroj Ghadei, Munna and Mitu Patnaik -- were brought to the city airport from Palakkad, to take them to Bangalore en route to Bhubaneshwar.

As the Orissa police did not get clearance from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to take the accused via Bangalore this morning, they with the help of local police produced them at a local court and lodged them in the central jail on transit warrant, the sources said.

The three would be taken to Bangalore on Tuesday morning and from there to Bhubaneshwar, the sources said.

The three were arrested on Saturday from a rice mill in Palakkad where they were working.

Click here for source

12-hour bandh in five South Orissa districts hit normal life

Bhubaneswar (PTI): Normal life was on Monday affected during a dawn-to-dusk bandh in five south Orissa districts called by some Left parties and others in protest against the recent violence in Kandhamal, official sources said here.

Vehicles went off the road and shops remained closed in Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada and Koraput districts during the bandh called by left outfits like CPI-ML (New Democracy), CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (Red Flag) and Samajwadi Jana Parishad .

Their demands including action against organisations instigating violence in Kandhamal in the aftermath of killing of Laxamananda Saraswati and security to the riot victims.

The shut-down also had its echo in state capital Bhubaneswar where Left activists blocked railway tracks and roads for a brief period, Khitish Biswal of CPI-ML(liberation) said.

The state-owned Orissa State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) cancelled all long-distance buses from Berhampur while private bus owners kept their vehicles off the road.

While shops business establishments were closed in Raikia, Daringibadi, Kotagada, Tumudibandh, Nuagaon, Tikabali and Udaygiri areas of Kandhamal, markets were open in district headquarter town of Phulbani as well as at Berhampur in nearby Ganjam, sources said.

The central security forces deployed at Daringibadi chased a group of bandh supporters while blocking the roads.

At least 26 bandh supporters were detained at Rambha in Ganjam while resorting the railway services.

However, They were released later, they said adding barring few minor incidents, the bandh passed off peacefully.

Click here for source

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One more killed in Kandhamal

One more person was found murdered in the strife-torn Raikia area on Saturday, the same day Orissa police arrested three more accused in the alleged gang-rape of a nun, taking the number of arrested in the crime to eight..

THERE SEEMS to be no end to communal violence in Kandhamal. On Saturday (October 11), a 75-year-old tribal was found murdered in the strife-torn Raikia area. He was identified as Krushna Pradhan.

The murder, however, coincided with the crime branch of Orissa police arresting three more accused in the alleged rape of a Catholic nun, taking the number of those nabbed in the August 25 incident to eight. The alleged victim remains elusive, though.

The latest murder, officials suspect, could have its genesis in the ongoing ethnic-communal discord in the district, but nothing had been ascertained till reports last came in.

"We don t know the murderer or the reason for murder. We are trying to verify the facts," a senior police officer said.

Raikia has witnessed more than 15 murders since violence broke out in the last week of August following the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Kandhamal had not reported any major violence during the past 10 days, but Saturday's development has come as a setback for the ongoing efforts to restore peace in the troubled zone.

On the other hand, total number of deaths in Kandhamal violence has reached 36 according to government reports. But in reality, the actual death toll might touch 100.

Click here for source

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Church attacked in Chennai, security up

Miscreants attacked the CSI Immanuel Church in Chennai’s Anna Nagar, Thirumangalam area, late on Thursday night forcing the state police to beef up security for key churches in the city.

That attacks have a pattern, this was proved when a glass case, containing the Bible, in the front portion of the church was found shattered. Rev. Fr. Wellington Jesudas said they were shocked to notice the desecration. A name board with a Biblical saying inscribed on it has been damaged.

This is the seventh such attack in Tamil Nadu in the past four weeks. The incident comes close on the heels of the attack on St. Francis Assisi church in Coimbatore on Wednesday.

A few tombstones in a cemetery near Villupuram, 150 km from Chennai, had also been vandalized.

Additional Director General of Police (law and order) T. Rajendran said those responsible for the attacks would be arrested under the Goondas Act.

Click here for source

Another church attacked in Chennai

There has been another report of a church being attacked on Friday. It's the seventh such incident in Tamil Nadu.
Unidentified persons threw stones at a glass case enclosing a Bible at a church in central Chennai.
Earlier incidents were reported in places like Kanniyakumari, Coimbatore, and Madurai. State police are providing extra security to churches in Chennai.

Click here for source

Friday, October 10, 2008

Christians Send Love to Indian Leader Despite Ongoing Violence

Christian leaders and laymen have both joined in email campaigns, urging believers to wish the chief minister a happy birthday and to express "love" even after the pain and suffering the Christian community has been undergoing following violence on churches and clergies in the Indian state of Orissa.

Christians all over India have decided to present Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik with flowers on his 62nd birthday on Oct. 16.

Christian leaders and laymen have both joined in email campaigns, urging believers to wish the chief minister a happy birthday and to express "love" even after the pain and suffering the Christian community has been undergoing following violence on churches and clergies in the Indian state of Orissa.

"Since we love those who hate us, please do not fail to send him special birthday greetings from the Christian community, especially from those who are impressed by his efforts to uphold the honor of women and enforce the rule of law in this state," states the email being circulated among the Christians.

The email gives the address of the chief minister's official residence and his email address so that the flowers and greetings can be sent both online and offline. The Orissa chief minister's phone number has been also added as a helpful gesture for those wishing to call the him on his birthday.

Meanwhile, a joint declaration was signed in the capital on Wednesday calling for an end to violence and the promotion of interfaith dialogue between Hindus and Christians.

The announcement came after a meeting between the Archbishops of New Delhi and Orissa and L.K. Advani, leader of the country’s parliamentary opposition - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Advani, who believes that India is a Hindu country and that all Indians should embrace Hinduism, spoke on the need for restoring peace and a sense of security in the state through cooperation between communities. He emphasized the need for "sustained and sincere" dialogue between Hindu and Christian community leaders on religious conversion.

"Religious conversions or re-conversions, using coercive, fraudulent and allurement-based means, or through denigration of others' faiths, are condemnable and must be stopped," read a joint statement released after the meeting.

The significant call came after a meeting between senior BJP leaders and Christian representatives, amid the escalating violence in Orissa, Karnataka and other parts of the country.

The Christian leaders condemned the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his four aides in Kandhamal district in Orissa.

Violence broke out in the remote eastern state of Orissa after a Hindu political leader, known for his anti-Christian conversion campaigns, was murdered. Police had initially blamed Maoist rebels for the murder, and the rebels themselves have claimed responsibility.

But Hindu radicals refuse to believe the rebels are behind the attack and continue to blame Christians for the death of their leader. While relations between the small Christian population and Hindus have been generally peaceful, Orissa has been plagued by religious tensions between Christian missionaries and hard-line Hindu groups who claim the Christians are forcing or bribing people to convert, as reported by The Associated Press.

Since then, thousands of people have become homeless, many churches were destroyed, a nun was brutally gang-raped, and at least 60 people, mostly Christians, have been killed in the state.

Prohibitory orders are still in force in the district and a night curfew has been imposed in most towns.

Babu Thomas
Christian Today Reporter

Click here for source

Violence mars Dassehra procession in Davangere, Karnataka

Davangere (Karnataka), Oct 9 (PTI) A chaotic situation was witnessed during a Dassehra procession here today as police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd which turned violent after some stone pelting incidents by some miscreants.
The trouble erupted when some miscreants, who were a part of the procession, pelted a stone on a prayer hall. The devotees inside the hall in turn retaliated in the same manner, resulting in a verbal duel, police said.
As the situation went out of control, the police made lathicharge, in which a few persons, including a photo-journalist of a local daily, were injured.
As tension prevailed, all commercial establishments downed their shutters.
Additional police force had been provided in the area and "the situation though tense is under control", they said.
No arrests had been made so far, police said.


Christians in Orissa relief camps still afraid to return home

Christians living in relief camps in Orissa's volatile Kandhamal district, where communal clashes since Aug 23 have claimed at least 35 lives and rendered thousands homeless, are scared to return to their villages although officials claim that violence is on the wane.

Jibit Kumar Digal, 30, has spent over a month in a relief camp at Baliguda, some 350 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, which houses more than 1,200 Christians.

Having seen Christians being killed and his house being burnt by an angry mob, he is terrified of returning to his village Barikia.

"Villagers have threatened to kill me because I am a Christian. They have said I will be welcome back only if I change my religion and become a Hindu. I don't know what to do," said Jibit Kumar.

Kaliamani Digal, 45, echoes the concern. "Of the 200 families in our village, only 45 are Christians. The Hindus have told us that we won't be allowed to stay there unless we are ready to accept Hinduism. We are scared to return home," he said.

Kaliamani has been living in the camp with his two daughters and two sons and wife since Aug 29, when their house was set on fire by a mob.

At least 35 people have been killed in the violence that erupted after the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others at his Jalespata ashram on Aug 23.

Three men have been arrested and charged with the murders. Police officers claimed they were trained by Maoist rebels.

Officials Wednesday said there have been no reports of fresh arson or violence from any part of the district and Christians can return home and be safe.

"We will provide adequate security to Christians if they return home," a police officer said.

However, there is deep fear in the hearts of the nearly 20,000 people living in relief camps in Kandhamal as well as in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Many claim that they have been threatened by activists of the Hindu organisations such as VHP and Bajrang Dal although leaders of these organisations deny making any threats.

District authorities said they had received over a dozen complaints of forced conversions to Hinduism. Victims claim the administration has not taken action and in many villages people have put saffron flags at the top of their houses to escape attacks by Hindu mobs.

"The administration is just remaining silent. If you want to live in the village you have to become a Hindu and put a saffron flag atop of your house," said Ashok Nayak, who has been living in a relief camp in Bhubaneswar with his wife and two children.

"I don't want to go home. I want to spend my life here. I have started looking for a job," he added.

Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians. On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

Click here for source

Fresh violence in Orissa over Dussehra celebrations, 10 injured

BHUBANESWAR: In fresh violence in Orissa, 10 people were injured, two critically, as groups of Hindus and Christians clashed over the celebration of Dussehra in Malkangiri district, police said on Friday.
The clash took place late Thursday in Podia village of Malkangiri, some 750 km from here, police said.
"Ten people were injured in the clash, two of them critically," district superintendent of police Satish Kumar Gajbhiye said.
According to village sources, 12 Hindus and five Christians were injured in the clashes.
Orissa has been witnessing anti-Christian attacks since the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and four others at his ashram in Kandhamal district Aug 23. The violence has left at least 35 people dead and rendered thousands homeless in the district.
Although no fresh violence has been reported in Kandhamal in the past seven days, on Wednesday some houses were set on fire by miscreants in the neighbouring district of Boudh.
Police forces have been deployed in Podia village in Malkangiri to prevent further clashes.
Podia village is a block headquarter with a population of 4,700. Hindus and Christians are in equal number. The village has a few Muslims families too.
Meanwhile, many villages in Kandhamal district wore a deserted look as thousands of Christians who are living in relief camps are refusing to return home.
"At least 13,000 people, mostly Christians, are in government relief camps in Kandhamal district," a senior police official said.
More than 5,000 Christians are also staying in private relief camps set up by different Christian organisations in and outside the district, including in state capital Bhubaneswar and in Cuttack, he added.
Christians complain they have been threatened by some Hindu groups that they can return only after they become Hindus.
Thousands of Hindus have also fled to the forests to escape arrest by police for rioting.
The total number of people hiding in the forest could be over 10,000 and most of them are Hindus, the police official said.
Police have arrested more than 600 people, mostly Hindus, over the last week. The arrests are still on. Police are raiding village after village and arresting dozens of people every day, he said.
Swarupananda Patra, president of Orissa Minority Forum, said that hundreds of victims of the minority community have migrated to other states.
On the other hand, Subash Chouhan, one of the national coordinators of the Bajrang Dal, said tribals are deserting homes because police are arresting "innocent people".
Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians.
On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.
But officials admit that the violence the state witnessed since Aug 23 is one of the worst.

Click here for source

UPA may ask Orissa for Bajrang Dal dossier, looking at Governor’s report

NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 9 With some key allies demanding a ban on the Bajrang Dal for its alleged role in violence against Christians in Orissa, the UPA Government plans to seek a detailed report from the Naveen Patnaik government on the activities of the outfit in the state.

Sources in Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Indian Express that data relating to the alleged involvement of the Bajrang Dal in fomenting communal violence has already been collected from other states. “But so far, there is no decision to recommend a ban on the outfit. Any decision in this regard will be taken after scrutinising whatever details we get from Orissa and various agencies,” a senior official said.

The UPA is divided over the issue of banning the Bajrang Dal. While key allies like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ramvilas Paswan are all for an immediate ban, others, some senior Congress ministers included, maintain that a ban is possible only if there is adequate evidence that can stand legal scrutiny.

At the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said his ministry had collected some evidence against the Bajrang Dal but more evidence was needed to firm up a case for a ban.

Click here for source

Home Minister avoids query over violence in Orissa

Home Minister avoids query over violence in Orissa

Noida (PTI): Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Friday refused to comment on Orissa which has been hit by communal violence prompting demands for imposition of President's rule in the state.

Patil, who was addressing media after a function here, abruptly ended the interaction and went away when asked by reporters what the government was planning to do in Orissa in the wake of the continuing violence.

"At this event, it is not necessary that I take any other question than the purpose for which the conference is bing held," he said.

Patil also did not reply to a question on the demand for banning Sangh Parivar outfits Bajrang Dal and VHP.

During the interaction, he only talked about Amity University and how it is doing well in the areas of Nano-technology and Bio-Technology.

The demands for imposition of President's rule in Orissa and ban on Bajrang Dal and VHP have been made by key UPA allies RJD and LJP with their ministers Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan raising the issue forcefully at a special meeting of the Union Cabinet to discuss the Orissa situation on Wednesday.

The Cabinet was sharply divided over imposition of President's rule in the state as T R Baalu of DMK, A Ramadoss of PMK and Praful Patel of NCP reportedly opposed such a move.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have decided to send a ministerial team to Orissa for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation there.

Click here for source

Odd names for newborns in violence-hit Kandhamal

Berhampur (Orissa), October 9: Salmon and many others with such odd names for being born during the series of violence in Kandhamal district will never forget the clash which was witnessed not by themselves but by their parents sheltering in relief camps.

Salmon was born in the hospital at Raikia, the day when the district was burning after the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati. His mother rushed to the hospital from a relief camp at raikia where the family was taking shelter after leaving their home at village Dandibengia during the violence.

His birth amidst odd circumstances prompted his parents to name him Salmon meaning “a fish born in the river after swimming thousands of miles against the current.”

“We have decided to name him Salmon initially”, said his mother Timati Digal. His name may be changed later, said his father Rohit Digal.

Similarly, Shantamani Digal has chosen to name her newborn as ‘Danga’ (riots). She has chosen to name her son as Danga because he was born on October 6, when the district witnessed widespread riot.

Shantamani, wife of Trilochan Digal of Taladandapara in Raikia block of strife-torn Kandhamal district delivered the baby at Raikia hospital. She was taken from the relief camp in Raikia.

Renuka Mallick, admitted to the same hospital after being taken from a relief camp decided to name her son Sainika (soldier), who was born on September 21.

Shantamani and Renuka have common reason to name their newborns.

“Danga was born when the district was witnessing severe violence and we have never come across such a horrifying situation during our life-time,” narrated the baby’s parents, Shantamani and Trilochan.

“My son was named Sainika because he will become a soldier in future and maintain law and order,” Renuka said.

Timati, Renuka and Shantamani are the victims of the worst-ever communal violence in Kandhamal which claimed at least 35 lives and rendered several homeless.

“The condition of the newborn and their mothers are good,” hospital sources said.

Like Salmon, Danga and Sainika, atleast a dozen babies were born in the district in different hospitals after being brought from the relief camps during violence period, M M Patnaik, chief district medical officer said.

The relief camps were set up in Raikia, Tikabali, G Udayagiri, Tumudibandha, Daringibadi, Phiringia and other places of the district to provide shelter to riot victims.

“The women were not neglected and immediately they were admitted to the hospitals from the relief camps following labour-pain”, the CDMO said.

Click here for source

Jesus statue, cemetery vandalized in TN

VILLUPURAM/COIMBATORE: Miscreants vandalized a cemetery in Villupuram, about 160 km from Chennai, and a statue of infant Jesus was damaged in Coimbatore in the ongoing episodes of desecration of churches in Tamil Nadu.
In Villupuram, police said 20 holy crosses in the cemetery of St Paul’s church near Katpadi on the Villupuram-Chennai highway were damaged on Wednesday. A family which visited the cemetery to offer prayers saw the damaged tomb stones and informed authorities.
The church authorities lodged a complaint with the Villupuram West police who registered a case of promoting enmity between groups, disturbing communal harmony and trespassing.
Police arrested two people — V Kannan (33) of Muthope and R Durai of Sitheri — and remanded them in judicial custody on Thursday. Tension prevailed in the region for a brief period when representatives of some political parties staged an agitation demanding action against the miscreants responsible for the desecration.
Though at least eight incidents of stone pelting on churches have been reported in the state so far, it was the first time that a church in Coimbatore city has come under attack.
In the pre-dawn hours, a glass case in which an infant Jesus statue was kept was broken at the St Francis of Assisi Church at Athipa-layam Pirivu at Ganapathy. The statue was also damaged. Parish priest C S Madalaimuthu said the desecration was noticed around 5am by people who came for the morning mass prayers.

Click here for source