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[Above: Location (in red) of Odisha (formerly Orissa) in India. Filpro / [CC-BY-SA 4.0] Wikimedia File:IN-OD.svg]

Many Hindus hold a definition that to be Indian is to be a Hindu. Their movement calls for Hinduism to become the national religion. This view goes against India’s constitution which declares India a secular state and affords religious liberty to all faiths. While Hinduism is the majority religion, centuries-old traditions of other faiths flourish—Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, to name the most prominent.

In Orissa State [renamed Odisha State in 2011], militant Hindus have a strong presence and periodically attack Christians and even kill them as they did with Australian missionary Graham Staines and his son. Another assault took place in Orissa on this day, 28 February 2007, in the village of Kutabaga.

A mob of four hundred Hindus attacked the Gospel for Asia Bible School. Militants had whipped them into a fury over a recent court ruling that permitted the school to close a trail that villagers had made across the campus for convenient access to an adjacent river. Often villagers drove tractors and motorized vehicles through the school property, creating so much noise that concentration was difficult for teachers and students. Although alternate routes led to the river, the militants made an emotional issue of the land-use.

Armed with axes, sticks, and swords, the mob damaged the campus church and several roofs on other buildings and cut electric wires on the campus. They beat half a dozen of the approximately three-hundred students and a woman dorm director. The woman had to be hospitalized with head injuries and four male students also wound up in hospital, one in critical condition from having a brick slammed into his chest.

When police arrived, the mob scattered, but another group of Hindu militants soon approached, shouting “Hail Lord Rama,” and “Hail Lord Bajrangbali.” The situation remained tense. College officials called on Christians to pray for their persecutors. 

A few days later discussions between the villagers and the school led to an accommodation. The school opened a new path along the edge of its property and the villagers promised no longer to drive vehicles across the campus. Everyone hugged all around and peace was restored.

Dan Graves

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For more on Christianity in India, see Christian History #87, India: A Faith of Many Colors

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