Last week in the district of Kandhamal in Odisha four families were kicked out of their own houses. The reason for this was their faith. Their houses were demolished and they were not allowed to access common public resources, such as the village well. Because of this hostile environment some of them had to flee to the forest.
Commenting on this brutal behaviour archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Msgr. John Barwa called it “A discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”
On 19 September the women ( belonging to the Christian community ) went to the main well to draw water for daily use. A group of people prevented them from using the well. The women filled their vessels with water from a paddy field.
Suddenly a group of men and women, stormed their homes and attacked them and threw away the water they had collected.
Two families in fear fled away to the forest, while the other two shifted to a nearby village with their relatives. These families are Dalits who are also the members of Jesus Calls Prayer Tower, a Pentecostal group.
When the families tried to return, they were threatened and told they could can no longer live in the village since they adopted Christianity.
Even though the affected people belonged to the Pentecostal denomination, the legal team of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar led by Fr. Dibyasingh Parichha is now helping them to file a complaint at the local police station.
“The families have not yet been able to return to the village. And it is serious that some Christians are still persecuted simply for their faith in Jesus Christ ”
Condemning the incident Msgr. John Barwa said, ” After all the efforts that have been made here to restore peace it is painful and shameful that nothing can stop the aggression and threat against Christians. What can be said of people who deny their fellow citizens even drinking water? This inhuman behavior must be stopped immediately and those involved in these cruel actions must be firmly sanctioned according to the law. These episodes create insecurity and fear among people who are stigmatized and threatened only for their faith in Jesus.”
Sadly, in a country which lawfully allows every citizen to practice any religion, is not at all safe to actually do so. Cases of the same nature, and at times even more harsh, is on the rise in India.
[Prepared by Nishant Mishra]