THE Bishop of Amritsar in the Church in North India, the Rt Revd Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, has told how his family was forced to flee and feared for their lives, as the persecution of Christians by Hindu extremists in the country continues.
Bishop Samantaroy returned to his diocese on 22 August after attending the Lambeth Conference. The following day, an outbreak of violence against Christians in Orissa was sparked by the killing of a Hindu religious leader, Lakhmananda Saraswati. The murder was blamed on Christians, despite Maoist militants claiming responsibility (News, 29 August). The Bishop wrote in an email: “My own family members had to flee their houses and take shelter in other families, [homes] as their life was at risk.”
He also sent eyewitness accounts from Christians in Orissa detailing the violence. Among other testimonies, one pastor, the Revd Pratap Digal, told how his brother was brutally killed by Hindu-extremist mobs, who cut his body into 15 pieces before burning him by the roadside.
An estimated 4000 Christians are reported to have been made homeless as a result of the anti-Christian violence, which has escalated across the whole of India.
In the southern state of Karnataka, 20 churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, are reported to have been destroyed by Hindu extremist militants, and a missionary school in the Kasargod district of Kerala was attacked.