Another Christian woman was killed and 300 more houses were burned down in anti-Christian violence in the India state of Orissa on Wednesday. Her death brings to 60 the number of Christians who have been killed by Hindu extremists since August 23, with 18,000 people injured and over 50,000 people having fled their homes.
State authorities have imposed a day and night curfew in the district of Kandhamal, SIR reports. However, violent attacks are spreading to other Indian states, even the traditionally harmonious regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
Father Carlo Torriani, a missionary for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions to the lepers of Mumbai, told SIR that even the Christian community of Mumbai is worried.
Reports from a Mumbai suburb claim that the radical activists of Rashtrya Swayam Sevak Sangh met to plan attacks in the state of Maharastra, where Mumbai is located.
“There is the risk that they may try to do something even here, even if inter-religious dialogue works well here,” Father Torriani told SIR.
The priest agreed with the Indian Bishops’ September 26 letter which claimed the anti-Christian violence is part of an “organized strategy.”
“What happened in Orissa can be explained by social factors, that is, the rivalry between the outcaste tribe members, because some of them enjoy government concessions and others don’t,” he explained. “In addition, the Christians who have been educated at school are not prepared to be exploited by their masters any longer.”
The spread of violence to other states, however, indicates a “hidden political agenda.”
He claimed that Hindu fundamentalists, whom he called the “hidden hand” of the prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), want to spread a “climate of fear” to win support in next year’s national election.
Leaders in the Indian government, Father Torriani said, “pretend the problem does not exist and even the national press doesn’t give it much coverage.”
“The fundamentalists are having it easy, because the hidden political agenda behind all this is to embarrass [Indian National Congress president] Sonia Gandhi, because she is Italian and has already been accused of being the spy of the Vatican,” the priest continued.
Father Torriani said it will be important to lobby European governments to rouse the Indian government to investigate the cause of the violence and to compensate victims.
“But little or nothing has been done so far,” he remarked to SIR.