For weeks the world’s attention has been focused on Mumbai, India, where coordinated terrorist attacks left nearly 200 people dead, including many foreign visitors. But some are hoping that the world will not forget to look at another terrorist attack occurring in India that has been less reported.
“In the midst of the horrendous terrorist attacks on Mumbai, we must not forget that there is another wave of terrorism gripping India,” said K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gospel for Asia. “I am of course speaking about the attacks on Christians by religious extremists.”
About 960 miles east of Mumbai is the state of Orissa, where Hindu extremists have been waging a war of terror against Christians since mid-August.
After four months, there have been, according to the official report, 118 deaths, most to all of whom are Christians. While the official death toll is a little more than 100, some estimate that the real number of deaths is as high as 500.
In addition to those killed in the conflict, more than 50,000 Christians have been displaced by the violence. These now homeless people hide out in forests, jungles and refugee camps and cannot return back to their villages where Hindu militants still threaten them with physical harm.
“Just as the terrorists who attacked Mumbai do not represent the majority of Muslims, neither do these extremists carrying out the attacks in Orissa represent the majority of Hindus,” Yohannan said. “But the reality is, hundreds of Christians have been killed, thousands driven from their homes and churches and many homes have been destroyed. And so far, I am afraid the local government has not done enough to stop the carnage.
The GFA president added, “Every day we are hearing about Christian pastors being beaten up and abused. The attacks are even spreading to other parts of the country. I am so grieved over this.”
Christians are also disappointed over the lack of action against the radicals. The national government has appointed a one-man commission to study the attacks and recommend action, according to GFA. And the Orissa police have only arrested three people in relations to the attacks.
Police are also insisting Christians living in the refugee camps to return to their village, where the radicals are waiting to attack them.
Extremists groups are also said to be planning demonstrations on Christmas Day against the police, which they say have been slow to provide justice in the assassination of their leader.
The death of a Hindu nationalist leader in August was the event that sparked the anti-Christian rampage. Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the leader’s death, even though Maoist rebels have claimed responsibility for the murder.
Christians fear that the protests will lead to more attacks against them during the Christmas holiday.
“We are asking all Christians to fast and pray that the state and national governments in India will act quickly to protect Christians and other minorities from these terroristic attacks of hate,” Yohannan said. “We are also praying that many of these anti-Christian, religious fundamentalists would come to know Christ and turn away from these acts of terrorism against the followers of Christ.”