India (MNN) — Hindu extremists burned down the house of a
prominent Christian politician in eastern India yesterday.
The violence appears to be ongoing despite a curfew imposed
after two days of attacks against Christians in Orissa State. At least a dozen churches were burned or
ransacked in the Christmas riots.
A mob of Hindus torched the house of Radhakant Nayak, a
member of the Indian parliament's upper house and a Christian leader in the
area. One official, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity, thought the attacks were an apparent retaliation for
earlier attacks on churches, which were followed by the burning of several
Hindu homes. Angry Hindus then burned
down the village police station.
At this point, the situation seems to be escalating. Yet, Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton
wonders, "Will the police really go after the instigators, or will it be
swept under the rug? Orissa is a state
that has a history of violence against Christians, so it's hard to say if there
will be justice. What we do know is that
these Christians will continue to reach out."
Christian leaders are urging government protection after the
attacks. They expressed concerns that
the violence could rival Gujarat's troubles in December 1998.
The predilection toward sectarian
trouble makes this more likely because Orissa is also one of four states with
an active anti-conversion law, and, since 2000, baptism requires the
permission of the government. Despite all of this, the body of Christ in Orissa
continues to flourish. A new Oriya Bible was published in 1998.
Nettleton says prayer goes a long way toward peace.
"Voice of the Martyrs is very active in India. I would expect that our
staff there very soon will talk to the believers there, to see how
we can best assist them and to encourage them that we're lifting them