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Hindu hardliners torch 6 churches on Christmas

Hindu hardliners torch 6 churches on Christmas

Hindu extremists attacked Christians celebrating Christmas in eastern India, ransacking and burning at least six village churches, officials said yesterday. 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 yesterday, Mahapatra said.
There were conflicting reports of what sparked the unrest in Orissa, which has 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 attacked a hardline Hindu leader, Laxmanananda Saraswati of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad group, who led an anti-conversion movement.
But the New Delhi-based Catholic Bishops Conference of India said the fighting Monday began when 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 Christianity.
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 spokesman for the Bishops Conference.
The Hindus then went on a rampage 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, although it was not immediately clear if he was a Hindu or Christian. Another 25 people were wounded, the Press Trust of India news agency said.


Updated : 2021-06-14 04:33 GMT+08:00