Hindu Extremism Rising 7 Years After Mass Slaughter of Christians

A Christian holds a crucifix during prayer at Missionaries of Charity in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta on October 19, 2003. ((Photo: Reuters/Sucheta Das))

An inquiry into the 2008 massacre of nearly 100 Christians in Orissa, India, has concluded its investigation and is set to publish its findings amid reports that Hindu extremism is rising again.

Fides News Agency said that the detailed report of the investigation, which looks into the worst anti-Christian violence in India's history, will be published in December.

Judge A.S. Naidu, head of the Commission of Inquiry, explained that "because of the lack of cooperation of many stakeholders, including the government, it took almost seven years to finish the investigation."

The Commission investigated the sequence of events on Aug. 23-31, 2008, which sparked a wave of attacks on Christians in Orissa, leaving almost 100 believers dead, 56,000 people homeless, and 300 churches and 6,000 homes raided and looted.

The riots targeted Dalits, also known as the "Untouchables" in the lowest caste system, because many had made the decision to convert to Christianity.

A number of Christian women, as well as nuns, were also raped in the attacks.

A separate Fides report on Wednesday noted that Hindu extremists are stirring up tensions again, with the "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh" group accusing religions minorities, like Christians and Muslims, of "infiltration in Indian territory" and of "political conversion."

Recent demographic statistics have shown that those who identify with the Hindu religion have fallen from 88 percent to 83.8, while the Muslim and Christian populations have been rising. The RRS group has blamed religious minorities for threatening the "unity, integrity and identity of the country."

The extremists noted that in some states, like in Arunachal Pradesh, the Christian population increased by nearly 13 percent in a single decade, which they claimed is evidence of "targeted religious conversion."

The radical group is asking the Indian government to prepare a national register of citizens, which will be divided by religion. Indian Christians have said they are opposed to such plans, fearing that they can incite religions hatred and violence against minorities.

The seventh anniversary of the Orissa attacks was marked on Aug. 31, with Christians in India declaring that the faith has grown stronger in the country despite continued persecution.

The Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, His Exc. Mgr. John Barwa SVD, said in a statement back then that Christians "gather in prayer for the victims, reiterating, all together, our common commitment to promoting peace, justice and hope. The faith of Christians in Orissa has become stronger in the face of persecution."

Human rights activist Jagadish G Chandra added: "The celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of growing intolerance orchestrated by Hindu extremist groups across the country, and how these ideas have infiltrated the government, police and courts, eroding the values of justice, equality, secularism and citizenship enshrined by the Constitution of India."

This article was originally published in The Christian Post.

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