A holy war in India has left tens of thousands of Christians crammed into relief camps, too scared to return home following weeks of clashes with Hindu mobs in which at least 35 people have died.
More than 40,000 Christians have had to flee their homes in Kandhamal district, one of India’s poorest, in the eastern state of Orissa. Their homes have been systematically attacked, looted and burned down by Hindu mobs since the end of August as the local police have looked on helplessly.
“Villagers have threatened to kill me because I am a Christian. They have said I will be welcome back only if I change my religion and become a Hindu,” said Jibit Kumar Digal, 30, who has spent over a month in a relief camp at Baliguda, 200 south west of the provincial capital Bhubaneswar.
Aligned to the radical Hindu Opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the marauding mobs supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, are alleged to have killed Christians by burnign them alive, gang-raped a nun and destroyed over 140 churches and orphanages across Kandhamal.