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Letter to the President of India

Seeking army/central forces intervention to protect Christians in Orissa as nun is raped, priest injured, churches and offices burnt in presence of police

Hon’ble Mrs., Pratibha Patil President of India

Dear President, greetings from a grieving community.

You are aware of the still continuing carnage against the Christian community, mostly Dalits and Tribals, in the Kandhamal district of Orissa and in several other districts including the state capital of Bhubaneswar since 23rd August 2003 following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, reportedly by Maoist groups who have been operating in the state for some time.

The Christian leadership in the country has unequivocally condemned the killing of the VHP leader and his four associates.

The Christians of Kandhamal are still nursing their wounds from the Christmas 2007 violence, with hundreds of them still living in a refugee camp in Barakhama. Most of the more than one hundred churches then destroyed remain in ruins, and the burnt houses are still to be fully rebuilt.

And yet local Sangh leaders have targeted the community in a second wave of macabre violence.

A nun has been raped in Kandhamal, a Catholic father grievously injured, scores of houses in villages destroyed, apart from Churches and institutions. I attach herewith a partial list of the damage in the violence in the past two days. We in Delhi are overwhelmed with panic messages from priests, pastors, nuns and common people who look to New Delhi for help as the State machinery has collapsed once again.

Changing of superintendents of police as a knee jerk reaction does not provide security to Christians. In fact, much of the violence is taking place with the insufficient police force looking on. This had been the case in 2007 December, as has come out in the on going hearings of the Justice Basudeo Panigrahi Commission. Christian delegations have informed the State Governor, the State Chief Minister and the Home Minister of India of the dire situation of our community in Orissa.

Dear Madame President,

This is to request you to use your powers as President of India, and the tremendous force of your good offices, to impress on the Central Government to rush adequate Union forces, including contingents of the Armed Forces if required, to restore law and order and governance in the Kandhamal region.

The consequences of any further delay, I fear, may be catastrophic for our Christian community in the State in particular, for peace in Orissa in general, and for the fair name of India as a secular country.

God Bless you

John Dayal

Landelijke India Werkgroep / India Committee of The Netherlands - August 26, 2008