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Orissa police file case over attack

Hindu who helped Christians faces intimidation by armed mob

Orissa police file case over attack
Tribal people are rebuilding their houses in Kandhamal after anti-Christian violence but Hindu extremists put obstacles in their way Photograph
Ajay Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar

April 20, 2011

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Police in Orissa yesterday registered a case in the attack on a Hindu, a Christian sympathizer, in Kandhamal district, where violence against Christians is rife.

Armed Hindu fundamentalists on April 13 laid siege to Keshav Digal’s house, held his family captive through the night and damaged a vehicle parked outside.

Superintendent of police Praveen Kumar said a case has been registered and the matter was under investigation.

Digal’s house in Bodimunda village was also looted during the 2008 anti-Christian violence in the eastern Indian state.

He was accused of helping his Christian neighbors, to whom he is related.

Digal told that special forces led by the deputy superintendent of police reached the village on the night of attack, but did nothing to rescue his family which included four women.

“A series of such incidents have taken place. The Sangh Parivar has imposed a socio-economic boycott. They impose fines on any shopkeeper selling wares to Christians. No four wheelers are allowed to ferry us even to hospital”, says Naveen Nayak, a Christian leader.

“When I brought housing materials in a hired tractor, the vehicle was damaged. Police filed a case only when the SP was informed about it," Joseph Digal, another resident of the village, said.

Advocate Marcus, a Montfort Brother, says the tractor owners refuse to ferry goods for Christians even at a higher price for fear of Hindu fundamentalists.

At least 97 Christian families, whose houses were damaged during the violence, are trying to rebuild their dwellings. The state government has just released the first installment of money for repairs.

But the Hindu fundamentalists are not allowing the ferrying of building material, or impose heavy fines on them.

The matter has been taken up with government officials including police but in vain, Marcus added.

Related links

Calls for federal probe into Orissa violence

Church welcomes first conviction in Orissa violence

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