Rally in London Oct 4 against anti-Christian violence in Orissa

October 3rd, 2008 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 3 (IANS) A rally calling for an end to the current wave of anti-Christian vio­lence in the Indian state of Orissa will take place in London Saturday Oct 4. Many Christians have been killed, and an estimated 50,000 forced to flee their homes in the eastern state as attacks on Christians have escalated across the country after a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district Aug 23.

His supporters blamed Chris­tians for the murder, and then followed a spate of revenge attacks on Christian homes and churches.

Ashok Masih Mattu, chairman of UK-based Indian Christian Concern, one of the groups organ­ising Saturday’s rally, said that violence against Christians has in­creased since the murder of the Australian missionary Graham Staines in Orissa in 1999.

“It’s a very, very sad situation, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. The Indian government has said it’s doing everything in its power to stop it, but the killing is still going on.”

He said that last week, a mob allegedly burned down the house of the Roman Catholic Missionaries of Charity in the village of Sukananda in the Kandhamal district of Orissa. The house was empty at the time, as the Sisters had already fled.

In response, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, signed a statement on behalf of the group calling for “stronger and stringent action against all kinds of anti-social and anti-religious elements that violate human rights and terrorise innocent people”, according to a religious newspaper, The Church Times.

Saturday’s march will be attended by MPs John McDonald (Hayes and Harlington) and Virendra Shar­ma (Ealing and Southall) and repres­ent­atives of British Hindu groups.

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