Fwd: Interesting story from News24

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From: aadilshah@vodamail.co.za
Date: 26 Dec 2007 19:54:54 +0200
Subject: Interesting story from News24
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More news at http://www.news24.com
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Sent by: Aadil Shah

Extremists torch 6 churches

Dec 26 2007 03:53:37:533PM

Hindu extremists have attacked Christians celebrating Christmas in
India, ransacking and burning at least six churches, say officials.
New Delhi – Hindu extremists attacked Christians celebrating
Christmas in eastern India, ransacking and burning at least six
village churches, said officials on Wednesday. One person was killed
in the violence.
Authorities deployed 450 police to quell the violence in the remote
district of Orissa state, where the churches – most nothing more than
mud and thatch houses – were attacked, said Bahugrahi Mahapatra, a
government official. The trouble had largely tapered off by Wednesday,
Mahapatra said.
There were conflicting reports of what sparked the unrest in Orissa,
which had a history of violence against the state's tiny Christian
minority. Mahapatra called the violence a "sensitive matter" and
refused to discuss how it began.
Some reports said Christians had attempted to attack a hardline Hindu
leader, Laxmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad group, who
led an anti-conversion movement.
"The situation was aggravated by some Christians forcibly stopping
the 80-year-old Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and attempting to
attack him," said Giriraj Kishore of the VHP.
Hindus go on rampage
He said: "When they were prevented from attacking him by his
followers, the Christians hit someone with an axe and one Hindu died."
But the New Delhi-based Catholic Bishops Conference of India said the
fighting on Monday began after Hindu extremists objected to a show
marking Christmas Eve, believing it was designed to encourage Hindus
at the bottom of the religion's rigid caste hierarchy to convert to
An argument over the Christmas show got out of hand and some of the
Hindus opened fire on the Christians, wounding three of them, said
John Dayal, a spokesperson for the Bishops Conference.
The Hindus then went on a rampage on Tuesday, Christmas Day, chasing
people out of six churches and setting the buildings ablaze, he said.
Later, dozens of people from each community clashed, Dayal said. One
person was killed, he added, but could not say if the dead man was a
Hindu or Christian. Another 25 people were wounded, the Press Trust of
India news agency said.
Although Hindus, the overwhelming majority of India's 1.1 billion
people, and Christians, who made up about 2.5% of the population, had
tended to coexist peacefully in India, the region where the violence
took place had a history of tension between the communities.