Campaign of Terror in Kandhamal Has Subsided But Devastation Is 'Beyond Comprehension'

January 11, 2008

Christian Aid just received this update from a missionary pastor in the Kandhamal District regarding the present situation: An emergency meeting between Christian leaders and the chief minister was called, where it was decided that extraordinary action was needed. The deployment of more police force, including deputy senior officers, finally resulted in the suppression of the terror campaign instigated by radical Hindu extremists against Christians on Christmas Eve. But the damage is already done. "The loss of homes, churches, personal property is beyond comprehension. I toured these areas during the first week of January – it was a devastating sight."

Believer's home burned out

There is no way to measure the emotional, physical and spiritual damage to these human beings as a result of this pogrom. In their quest to force believers into Hinduism, Christians were forced to desecrate their own churches, and have their heads shaved. (A shaved head in this culture is the equivalent of wearing black for mourning. However, if your head is shaved when there has been no death, it is a stigma among the regular Hindu community.) If none of these tactics worked, they were threatened with death: "If you don´t convert (to Hinduism) we will kill you – by cutting you up into pieces!"

The government has not allowed any relief from NGOs. Churches or other missionary agencies have not been able to intervene. However, long-range plans include getting behind the missionaries already supported by Christian Aid for the restoration phase in rebuilding lives.