Christian rights group calls for justice as India marks 9th anniversary of Orissa massacre
The month of August this year marked the ninth year since at least 91 Christians were brutally killed in the Kandhamal District of Orissa (Odisha State) after they were wrongfully blamed for the assassination of a Hindu leader. Tens of thousands of people fled as mobs torched down their houses, churches, and other Christian establishments, Premier recalled.
Although nine years have already passed since the Orissa massacre, the group International Christian Concern said many of the victims still live in fear and are afraid of returning to their villages. They still feel wary and have yet to receive justice for what they went through in 2008.
"We are still in terror, not feeling safe," Orissa survivor Pastor Pradeep Nayak told ICC. "At every corner of the market we feel something is going against Christians."
Another survivor, Pastor Raj Kishore, said, "It was [the] most terrifying day of my life."
In light of the situation, ICC regional manager William Stark has called on the Indian government to work double time to bring the perpetrators of the Orissa massacre to justice. He said many displaced Christians cannot return home unless they convert to Hinduism, and that the government must help the victims of the 2008 violence to rebuild their lives in their own villages.
Meanwhile, persecution watchdog group Open Doors released a report that showed the number of anti-Christian attacks in the first six months of 2017 was almost equivalent to the recorded incidents in 2016. Last year, there were 441 recorded attacks targeting Christians in India, and now, there are already 410 such incidents recorded in the first half of this year, the Christian Broadcasting Network relayed.
In addition, the Open Doors report said many Christians were ostracized from the community or were forced to flee their homes because of persecution, mostly at the hands of Hindu extremists. The National Council of Churches in India recently sent an open letter calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak up against the ongoing persecution, but the government has reportedly not acted on the issue since the letter was written.