Religious violence in Orissa


Religious violence in Orissa
Indian state of Orissa

Religious violence in Orissa refers to civil unrest and riots in the remote forest region surrounding Kandhamal in the Indian state of Orissa. Parts of Kandhamal are tribal reservations where only tribal people can own land. Tribals and tribal land are protected by “The Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act”. The largest community in Kandhamal is the Kandha tribe. Most Kandha tribal people follow tribal religions or Hinduism. However, the socio-economic and political landscape is dominated by the second largest community non-tribal Panna who are mostly Christian. The region is also home to a Maoist terror group which is the largest terror group operating against India and responsible for 3338 deaths in India in five years from 2004 to 2008. Maoist has proclaimed Hindu nationalist organizations to be their natural enemy and many local Kandhamal terrorists are Panna-caste-Christians. Major Issues in Kandhamal are Violation of "The Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act” like forcible occupation of tribal land, fake issuance of tribal certificates, illegal building of places of worship mostly churches on tribal land etc., religious conversions, re-conversions and terrorism. This has also resulted in Civil unrest and tensions in 1986, 1994 and 2001.[1][2][3][4][5]

Contents

Background

Historical background of conversions

Franciscan missionary Friar Odoric visited India in the 14th Century and wrote about his visit to Puri in a journal which he later published in Europe. In the journal, Odoric wrote in detail about a huge chariot in Jagannath which taken out annually rathyatra. According to Odoric, people sacrificed themselves to the Hindu God. The Friar's account of the human sacrifice spread throughout Europe and by the 19th century the word 'juggernaut' began to be associated with an object of such proportions capable of destroying everything in its path. At the time Orissa was known in Europe as the region where the oft-mentioned Juggernaut was located.[6]

Baptist Christian missionaries first came to Orissa in 1822 during the British rule.[7]

As one of the poorest regions of India, Orissa has been fertile ground for missionary work. In several districts the people have been open to conversion, where they today form a significant fraction of the population.

0. R. Bachelor gives a description of missionary work in Orissa in 1856:[8]

"OUR first missionaries. Brethren Phillips and Noyes, with their wives, having arrived in India, spent the first six months, while engaged in the study of the language, laboring in connection with the English General Baptist missionaries; ...They preached and distributed books as extensively as they were able, and there laid the foundation for our boarding-school system. Six starving children were given them by their parents or relatives, and with them our school commenced.... Not long after, others were rescued from death, in a time of famine 5 and their number increased to fifty."

The missionaries ran into opposition from the local Brahmin community who opposed their work:

"Another obstacle is found in the power and in fluence of the Brahmans, the hereditary priests of Hinduism. They are the most intelligent, the best educated, and the most influential class.... They will oppose to the uttermost, both with their legitimate influence and their ecclesiastical authority, the introduction of a system that must necessarily subvert their power and deprive them of the support and confidence of the people."

This marked the beginning of the confrontation between the two communities. 0. R. Bachelor expressed satisfaction at the achievements of missionaries in the first few decades:

"Where for ages past the heathen trod in idolatrous procession, where heathen rites and ceremonies from time immemorial had been celebrated, there a new song is sung, and the God of the Christian is, we hope, worshipped in spirit and in truth"

After India's independence

The communal disharmony arose even before Indian independence in 1947 on aforementioned issue of religious conversion. Conversions have been legislated by the provisions of the Freedom of Religion Acts (acts replicated in numerous other parts through India). Orissa was the first provinces of independent India to enact legislation in regards to religious conversions. The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, mentions that no person shall “convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means”.[9][10] Christian missionaries have argued that spreading their faith is a religious duty of Christianity. Christian missions have been in action in Orissa among the tribals and backward Hindu castes from the early years of the previous century. Hindus have alleged that the increase in the number of Christians in Orissa has been a result of exploitation of illiteracy and impoverishment by the missionaries in contravention of the law, instead of free will.[11]

Conversion controversy

Behind the clashes are long-simmering tensions between equally impoverished groups: the Kandha tribe, who are 80% of the population, and the Pana. Both are original inhabitants of the land. The Indian tradition of 'untouchability', where Dalits, so-called 'lower caste' people, are subject to social and economic discrimination is outlawed in the Indian constitution. The prejudices remain and 'conversion' out of 'untouchability' has been a push factor for millions of such people to escape from their circumstances through joining other religions. The Panas have converted to Christianity in large numbers and prospered financially .[12] Over the past several decades, most of the Panas have become Dalit Christians.[13]

Hindu nationalist groups have blamed the violence on the issue of religious conversion. Conversions have been legislated by the provisions of the Freedom of Religion Acts, replicated in some of the states in India. Orissa was the first state of independent India to enact legislation on religious conversions. The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, stipulates that 'no person shall “convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means”'.[14][15] Hindus claim the Christian missionaries were converting poor tribal people by feeding them beef, which is taboo in Hinduism. Also, the missionaries would upgrade the mud houses of the converts into brick-lime. Hindus have further alleged that the increase in the number of Christians in Orissa has been a result of exploitation of illiteracy and impoverishment by the missionaries.[16][17] The Census of India shows that Christian population in Kandhamal grew from around 43,000 in 1981 to 117950 in 2001.[18] Conversion from Hinduism is frowned upon by right-wing parties such as the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Staines killing

Graham Staines was an Australian missionary working with the Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj, an Australian missionary society. On the night of 22 January 1999, he was sleeping in his station wagon when it was set afire. Graham and his two sons, ten-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were killed.[19]

Dara Singh, a Hindu fanatic from Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested for the crime. On 22 September 2003 a court appointed by the Central Bureau of Investigation sentenced Dara Singh to death and 12 others to life imprisonment for the murders.[20]

Dara Singh's connections to the Bajrang Dal drew suspicions of a larger conspiracy.[21] However, the Wadhwa Commission ruled out the direct involvement of any organisation in the killings.[22]

In May 2005, the Orissa High Court commuted Singh's sentence to life imprisonment.[23]

December 2007

Incident at Brahmanigaon, Phulbani on 24 December

On 24 December 2007 a group of 150-200 people in the town of Brahmanigaon, in Phulbani District, arrived at the town market and demanded that an arch put across the road by Christians be removed even though the Christian community had received official permission for putting up the structure. The Hindu protesters argued that the arch along with a tent set up to organize a Christmas function was sought to be erected on the very site used by the Hindus to celebrate the Durga Puja festival in October. Protestors then sought to close the weekly market and attempted to close all the shops in the area. The Christian shopkeepers refused to comply with this leading to an outbreak of violence. More than 20 shops were looted and destroyed. Three persons were killed: one Christian, one Hindu while the identity of the third was not established.[24][25][25]

Attack on Swami Laxmanananda

The violence was compounded when news spread that Hindu monk Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati had been attacked by Christian youth enroute to the spot of the confrontation. The Swami had stated that he had left for Brahmanigaon to boost the “morale of the majority community" The National Commission for Minorities in its report stated that this was "indicative of his desire to exacerbate communal tensions".

The Swami's car had been blocked by a bus belonging to Mr. Sugriba Singh, Panna Christian leader and BJD Member of Parliament (Lower House) and the Swami was attacked on that spot injuring him, his driver and a security guard. In his statement the Swami blamed Mr. Radha Kanta Nayak, Congress Member of Parliament (Upper House) and chief of Christian group World Vision. This led to further clashes between Hindus and Christians.[26][27] [28][29]

The authorities imposed a curfew in order to control the situation.[30][31] Concerned with rising violence, after the assault on the Swami, some Dalit Christian leaders lodged a complaint with the Police for protection.[32]

Intervention by CRPF

By 30 December, rioting was brought under control by the security forces such as the CRPF. The total number of security personnel deployed was about 2,500 police and paramilitary. The total number of people taking shelter in relief camps increased to 1200.[33]

Further violence

On 1 January 2008 further violence was reported at several places. Police said at least 20 houses and shops were torched at Phiringia, Khajuripada, Gochapada and Brahmanigaon by rioters on Tuesday night (1 January 2008) [34]

According to a fact-finding team of the Orissa state chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC), the violence in Kandhamal around Christmas time was perpetrated by Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) groups that killed at least four Christians and burned 730 houses and 95 churches. Hundreds of displaced Christians were in various relief camps set up by the state government. There were also reports of houses of Hindus being burnt.

A member of India's National Integration Council said that Hindu leader Saraswati was holding rallies in Kandhamal. This member attributed the destruction of Christian (Dalit) homes and resulting economic impoverishment to Saraswati.[citation needed]

Jacob Pradhan, general secretary of the Kandhamal district chapter of the Christian Endeavour Union, told Compass that around 100 houses belonging to Hindus were burnt in Brahmanigaon, Godapur, Barakhama and some other villages on December 26 and 27. Pradhan, who visited Brahmanigaon and Godapur villages to take stock of the situation, suspected that these houses were torched by sections of “misguided Christians” possibly incited by Maoists.[35][36][37]

August 2008 violence

Swami Lakshmanananda murder

On the evening of Saturday, 23 August 2008, the octogenarian Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, a leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad was killed at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district in Orissa, along with four others; three fellow leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and a boy.[38] The attackers, estimated at thirty gunmen, were suspected of being Maoist insurgents. Both the manner of attack and a letter found at the attack provided the basis for this. The government announced a special investigative probe into the attack.[39][40]

Kandhamal Riots

A Christian girl who was burned during religious violence in Orissa in 2008

However, Hindu groups in the state, including the BJP, blamed Christians for killing Lakshmananand. They cited Lakshmanananda's claims that Christians were trying to eliminate him for his opposition to conversion, and had attacked him eight times before.

On August 25–28, Hindu mobs, allegedly incited by leaders like Manoj Pradhan, an elected state legislator from the Bharatiya Janata Party, set fire to many Christian settlements, and at least 38 people were killed.[41] In addition, more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their villages "after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs." [42]

On 28 August, a letter of denial was received by a some media outlets, the VHP office in the Gajapati District of Orissa and the Bajrang Dal from a Maoist group. While the letter denied that the Central Committee of the Kotagarha branch of the Maoists had approved the attack, it claimed that some Maoists may have been lured by "nefarious elements" to launch the attack.[43] Sources within the police force have said that Maoists could have carried out the operation[44] Soon after the appearance of the aforementioned letter, Azad, a leader of the Maoist People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, claimed responsibility for the murder of Lakshmanananda. Azad was suspected by the police of leading the attack himself.[45] On 9 September 2008 the Maoists, who work underground, made an official press release claiming responsibility for the killing of Lakshmanananda.[46] Many Maoist sympathizers of south Orissa had initially denied the role of CPI-Maoist in the murder of VHP leaders that sparked off communal violence in Kandhamnal district.[47] Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Sabyasachi Panda claimed that they killed Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples at his Jalespeta ashram on 23 August. [48][49][50] On 7 October 2008, the Orissa police announced they arrested three Christians in connection with the murder of the Swami.[51]

On 16 October in an in interview to PTI the IG police Mr Arun Ray told that "Maoists were given money to train certain youth of a particular community to eliminate Saraswati," The plan to eliminate Saraswati was made immediately after the December 2007 communal violence in Kandhamal, he added. Elaborating the probe by the crime branch, Ray said investigations also showed that a group had collected money from some villages in Kandhamal which was given to the Maoist group to train their youth for the purpose. The police said that they already arrested three persons, including two Christian tribal's and others who belong to the extremist groups and efforts were now on to arrest the other accused.[52][53] [54]

Kandhamal Riots in Orissa Politics

At the time of the mob killings in Kandhamal in 2008, the Orissa government of Naveen Patnaik was a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Consequently, in the immediate aftermath of the riots, the government did not condemn the Hindu groups who are ideologically linked with the BJP. However in the runup to the 2009 elections, Patnaik broke his ties with the BJP, saying that "the alliance in the state had to be broken because it became impossible for him to stay with the saffron party after the Kandhanmal riots which "horrified the entire world". [55]

In November 2009, after winning the elections without the BJP coalition, re-elected chief minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik, admitted that Hindu rightist organizations Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were involved in organizing the Kandhamal violence in which at least 38 people were killed.[56][57]

BJP MLA convicted for multiple murders in Kandhamal riots

On 29 June 2010, a fast court set up after the Kandhamal riots found Manoj Pradhan, a Bharatiya Janata Party politician and a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Orissa, guilty of murder of Parikhita Digal, a Christian from Budedi village who was killed by the mob on August 27, 2008 .[58] Manoj Pradhan who was nominated by the BJP while imprisoned pending trial,[59] was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment. However, pending his appeal, he was granted bail by the High court on July 6.[60] A number of others have also been sentenced in riot-related cases.

On 9 September 2010, another judge found Pradhan guilty in the murder of Bikram Nayak from Budedipada on August 26, 2008.[41] He was sentenced to six years imprisonment in this case.

These are two of the 12 cases relating to the Kandhamal riots in which Manoj Pradhan has been charged; there are two other murder cases yet to be decided.

Rape of a Nun

On 30 September, various news sources reported the case of rape which occurred on 25 August. The incident took place at K. Nuagaon in Kandhamal district. While a police complaint was lodged soon afterwards, no action was taken for over a month, adding to accusations of police misconduct.[61][62][63][64] Eventually, four men were arrested for the attack, and a senior police office suspended over the delayed investigation. Police sources, as reported in The Financial express, said: “Though the nun had denied the rape allegation during recording of her statement, she later given a written complaint alleging that she was raped by one person from among the mob”.[65] During a press conference she said that a group of unidentified persons, dragged her along with Fr Thomas Chellan to the deserted Jana Vikas building. The priest was doused with petrol and beaten up. She reported that the mob paraded her on the streets in the presence of a dozen policemen.[66][67][68] After the complaint was launched, police had a medical examination of the nun carried out, which showed she had been raped.[69] Police sent the clothes of the said nun to State Forensic Laboratory for further verification. Kandhamal police chief Praveen Kumar confirmed the rape.[70] Police arrested nine people in connection with the crime while the nun in case was in hiding for fear of reprisals. The Crime branch took charge of the probe following a government decision after the medical report, which was collected 38 days after it was carried out.[71]

On 22 October 2008, the Supreme court of India, rejected Sister Meena Lalita's appeal for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and asked her to look at an identity parade of those accused to identify the culprit with state police.[67]

On 25 October 2008, Sister Meena Lalita appeared before the media for the first time, describing her experience and demanding a CBI probe into the incident. She alleged that the police had been "friendly" with the attackers. She said she went into hiding after the attack to protect herself from Hindutva extremists but decided to come forward after the Supreme Court turned down her initial request for a CBI inquiry.[66][72] Archbishop of Cuttack, who earlier filed a petition seeking directions to the CBI probe into the alleged rape of the nun by the Bajrang Dal activists.[73] Reuters reported the nun's media conference under the headline '40 men gang-raped me, says nun'; though she had made no such statement.[74]

Christian orphanage attacked

To protest the five killings of Hindus including that of Swami Lakshmananda, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) called for a statewide shutdown on Monday, 25 August 2008. On the same day, rioters attacked a Christian orphanage at Khuntpalli village in Bargarh district. An employee and prospective convert of the orphanage, a local Hindu, was killed when the orphanage was set on fire.[75][76][77][78]

The statewide protest by the VHP and Bajrang Dal against the five murders, turned violent and was retaliated to by Christians. Amit Sharma of the VHP said Hindu people in the area had taken the death of the Swami "very seriously, and now they are going to pay them back."[79] A curfew was imposed in all towns in Kandhamal. Despite this, violence continued in Phulbani, Tumudibandh, Baliguda, Udaygiri, Nuagaon and Tikabali towns. Many others fled into the jungle. All nine towns in the district were under a curfew, and the police had license to shoot.[80][81]

On 31 August 2008 violence continued in several parts of the state. As a result curfew was imposed in Jeypore town of Orissa's Koraput district. Five police personnel were injured in mob violence. The state government sought additional paramilitary forces to combat the continuing violence.[82]

On 1 September 2008 Government of Orissa claimed the situation was under control. However, 558 houses and 17 churches and prayer halls were burnt in riots. 543 houses were burnt in the worst hit Kandhamal district. 12,539 people were fed in 10 relief camps, 783 people got the facilities in two relief camps in Rayagada district. In all, 12 companies of para-military forces, 24 platoons of Orissa State Armed Police, two sections of Armed Police Reserve forces and two teams of Special Operation Group (SOG) were deployed to control the riots.[83] On 4 September 2008 in Tikabali, Kandhmal over 300 Hindu tribal women attacked a relief camp for the Christian riot victims. The rioters were protesting Christians' having provisions in relief camps while the Hindu community was not so provided.

On 7 September 2008 VHP leader Praveen Togadia announced that an All-India agitation would be launched if the killers of Lakshmananda were not arrested.[84] The Church in turn demanded dismissal of the state government.[citation needed]

On 15 September 2008, NDTV reported attacks on two Hindu temples in Orissa's Sundergarh district. One was attacked on the night of 14 September, and the other 2 weeks earlier.[85]

In November 2008, Christian aid workers in Orissa accused a Hindu organisation of offering food, alcohol and money to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes. A US-based Christian charity claimed that Hindu extremists had put a price on the heads of Christian leaders. This claim was made after two workers from the Hindu organisation were allowed entry to the UK.[86]

Political fallout

The ruling government of Orissa, headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, was a coalition of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). In the 147-member state assembly the BJD-BJP combine has 93 members, 32 of whom are from the BJP.

Some BJP legislators blamed the government for not providing adequate protection to Saraswati, despite other attempts on his life. They called for withdrawing support from the government, which would lead to its collapse.

On Wednesday 4 September 2008, India's Supreme Court issued an order on a petition filed by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath seeking a CBI enquiry and dismissal of the state government. The order asked the Orissa state government to report on steps taken to stop a wave of communal rioting that has claimed at least 16 lives. The supreme court also asked the Naveen Patnayak government to file an affidavit by 4 September explaining the circumstances under which it allowed VHP leader Praveen Togadia to carry out a procession with the Saraswati's ashes, an act that would clearly inflame further communal tension.[87][88] Togadia said that he never proposed to carry the "ashes" of Saraswati and alleged that Archbishop Raphael Cheenath had "lied under oath to the apex court". The dead body of Swamiji was not cremated as his was a samadhi, where a holy man is entombed on death. So the claims of the 'asthi-kalash yatra' (carrying of ashes), were not true.[89]

Total damage

More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in relief camps, as of October 2008.[90] Some of the tribals even fled away to border districts in neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh and took shelter in churches of those districts.[91] 310 villages were affected [92] with 4,640 homes, 252 churches, and 13 educational institutes torched during attacks.[68]

Arrests

On 14 October, Cuttack archbishop Raphael Cheenath moved the Supreme Court seeking Rs 3 crore as compensation to rebuild the demolished and vandalized churches in the communal riot-hit areas. He also sought Rs 5.5 lakh for the kin of those killed in the riots and compensation of Rs 60,000 to those whose houses were damaged or torched by miscreants.[93]

Later violence

Against Hindus

On 6 November[clarification needed], Dhanu Pradhana, a VHP activist was murdered in Kandhmal. Dhanu Pradhana was shot when he was at a school in Kumbharigaon.[94] The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader of Eastern Orissa, Prabhat Panigrahi, Hindu activists allege, was killed by Christians and Maoists in late March 2009, though Maoist rebels were suspected.[95] Disturbingly, Hindus have also been attacked by members of their own faith, due to having Christian relatives. One woman, who is herself a Hindu, says she was gang raped by her grandparent's neighbors due to her uncle's refusal to renounce his Christian beliefs.[96]

Response

 India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Orissa violence a "shame" and offered all help from the Centre to end the communal clashes and restore normalcy. He said he would speak to Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik to urge him to take all necessary steps to end the violence. [97] [98]

The church network - including the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and the National Council of Churches in India - organized for all Christian institutions to remain closed on 29 August 2008 in protest.

 Vatican City On Wednesday, 27 August 2008, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the violence and expressed solidarity with the priests, nuns, and laypeople being victimized.[99] He "firmly condemned" the violence and called upon Indian religious and civil authorities "to work together to restore peaceful co-existence and harmony between the different religious communities." In doing so he said: "I learnt with great sorrow the information concerning the violence against the Christian community in Orissa which broke out after the reprehensible assassination of the Hindu leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. This led to derisive remarks in the press about the Italian origins of Sonia Gandhi, a Catholic, whose UPA alliance rules India from New Delhi."[100]

Hrw logo.gif

Human Rights Watch, a US-based outfit, expressed extreme dismay at the mob violence against Christians instigated by the VHP. The organization also expressed concern at the state government's lack of action following the Christmas 2007 violence.[101]

 Italy's Foreign Ministry called on India's ambassador to demand ‘incisive action’ to prevent further attacks against Christians.[102]

The National Human Rights Commission of India(NHRC) sought a report from the Orissa government on the ongoing religious violence in the state. [103]

 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) a controversial federal agency advising the US administration has demanded the Indian authorities take immediate steps to quell the violence and order a probe to find out the perpetrators of the attacks.

"The continuing attacks targeting Christians represent the second major outbreak of religious violence in Orissa since December which underlines the pressing need for Indian government to develop preventive strategies," USCIRF said. "State governments must be held accountable for violence and other unlawful acts that occur in their state" Commission Chair Felice D Gaer said in a statement. USCIRF called on the US State Department to urge the central government and its Human Rights and Minority Commissions to continue their investigations, issue reports on the status of their investigations, and take further appropriate measures to address the situation, including ensuring that perpetrators of the violence are brought to account. [104]

 European Union expressed concern over the violence against Christians in Orissa and hoped that the ruling government would bring the perpetrators to justice.[105]

In a press release made on 21 September, The National Commission for Minorities blamed the Sangh Parivar and Bajrang Dal for the communal violence in states of Karnataka and Orissa. Shafi Qureshi, member of the NCM team stated that the NCM teams had determined activists of Bajrang Dal were involved in these attacks in both in state of Orissa and Karnataka. Condemning the attack on churches in Kandhamal and other areas of Orissa and in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Mangalore in Karnataka, the Commission stressed the need for immediate confidence building measures to allay the fear from the minds of the minorities in both states of Orissa and Karnataka. [106]

November 2008. In the UK House of Lords, Lord Harries, former Bishop of Oxford urged the Indian government to prosecute those responsible for the attacks. Graham Dow, the Bishop of Carlisle added that anti-conversion laws in seven states have entailed threats of fines and imprisonment for clerics if they baptise Dalit people.[107]

Summary of events before the riots

Kandhas and panhas were two separate groups; Kandhas were scheduled tribes whereas Panhas are Dalits. They did not mix much, never inter-married. Christian missionaries set up at kandhamal and converted panha tribes. They built churches in surrounding area and built 'pucca' houses for the converts. Laxmanananda started his ashram in kandhamal, as an answer to the missionaries and preached hinduism to kandhas. Intolerance between Kandhas and panhas strengthened. Panhas appealed to make their status 'tribal', which would allow them to access forest land belonging to kandhas. This infuriated the kandhas, as they saw it as an invasion. Moreover, there were some controversial beef eating drives organised by the missionaries, which angered kandhas and also ashram activists In December 2007, a Christian gate was erected near a Hindu place of worship, which kandhas felt as a 'slap on their face'. Hindu kandhas, not withstanding, burnt down the Christmas gate and from there started the violence.

See also

References

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  107. ^ Anti-Christian violence in Orissa: conference hears victims’ stories

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