Orissa Christians Fear More Attacks after Murder of Second Hindu Leader

( [email protected] ) Mar 25, 2009 01:04 PM EDT

The murder of a second Hindu fundamentalist leader in Orissa has sparked fears of another wave of violence.

The culprits are believed to be Maoist rebels, according to Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).

According to VOMC, around 15 men attacked and shot Prabbhat Panigrahi, a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - a Hindu fundamentalist group - last week.

The murder of a leader of that group last August had sparked anti-Christian violence that left dozens killed and 50,000 displaced.

Maoists had claimed responsibility for the murder, but Hindus blamed Christians. And again, they are pointing the finger at the Christian community for the latest murder.

Panigrahi was recently released from prison after being arrested in connection with the anti-Christian riots. The Maoists issued a hit list of 14 RSS leaders to be targeted, allegedly because of their involvement in the anti-Christian activities.

The RSS is a male-only organization which seeks to promote nationalism among the Hindus of India. They have accused Christians of being in league with the Maoists in the killings. Some even claim that Maoists are the "paid goons" of the church.

Since last year's violence, many Christians have been unable to return to their home villages in fear of continued violence. Although the riots have subsided, individual acts of violence and persecution continue, as Catholic priests have reported.

VOMC is calling on believers to pray that the latest Maoist killing will not trigger another wave of mass violence.