VHP’s December 25th 2008 Bandh Triggers Panic Among Orissa Christians
- By The Christian Messenger
- Published 12/22/2008
The Christian Messenger
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HINDU fundamentalist organizations in Orissa confirmed they will hold a bandh on Christmas Day triggering fears of further anti-Christian violence.
On Dec. 17, 2008, ultra-nationalist Hindutva groups said they will observe a state-wide shut-down for 12 hours on Christmas Day, reported The Hindu newspaper. The protest is due to the ‘failure’ of authorities to arrest the killers of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati who was killed on Aug. 23, 2008.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik opposes the bandh, and the newly appointed Minister of Home Affairs in New Delhi, P. Chidambaram, publicly assured Christians they'll be safe.
However, AICC leaders remain concerned it will have the same results as an August 25th bandh which saw anti-Christian violence spread across Orissa. Last Christmas, a bandh called by a tribal organisation, Kui Samaj, resulted in unprecedented anti-Christian attacks throughout one district.
“The bandh is provocative. Combined with a continuing hate campaign against Christians, there is potential for violence over Christmas. We appeal to police, politicians, local language media, and civil society in Orissa - and across India - to seek peace instead of hostility,” said AICC secretary general John Dayal. “Specific actions like positioning adequate Central Reserve Police Forces and banning the entry of VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders from the sensitive Kandhamal District are essential.”
AICC president Joseph D'souza said: “The climate of intimidation and fear among Christians continues in Orissa. Although we hope the state and central authorities act to protect thousands of innocent victims and prevent future mob violence, we're deeply worried. We are appealing for preventative action through all legal avenues.”