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Attacks against Christians in Orissa lessening

.- Violence against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa appears to be subsiding after 26 people were killed and 4,000 Christian homes, churches and centers were destroyed by Hindu extremists.

Fides News Agency is reporting that local police authorities say the violence has tapered off after a curfew was established on Monday. The police are continuing to patrol public places, town squares, centers, streets and around churches to prevent the outbreak of further violence.

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said this past Saturday that because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government did not deploy government troops to the region, the violence has lasted for a week.

Catholic schools and institutions around India participated in a protest in opposition to the violence against Christians by closing their doors on August 29. The Archdiocese of Raipur, which closed its schools in solidarity with those under attack in Orissa was threatened by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for closing.

According to SAR News, Satyam Dua, the local official in charge of the BJP, said: "Those educational institutions which participate in the bandh and keep their educational institutions closed will be shut down by the BJP activists forever."

Expressions of solidarity were found elsewhere, despite these threats. Christians in Orissa told Fides that, “they had been sheltered and saved thanks to Hindu citizens that, in the face of destruction by the fundamentalists, opened their homes to many Christians, condemning the attacks.”

The wave of attacks against Christians began when Hindu leaders blamed Christians for the killing of the 85 year-old Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda Saraspati. Since his murder on August 23, Christians have been targeted for attacks throughout India but mostly in the state of Orissa.

Catholics in India will hold a “Day for Fasting and Prayer” on September 7, in memory of the victims of violence and for the spread of peace and harmony in the nation.


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