Mumbai (AsiaNews) – It was a Christmas of contrasts for Christians in Kandhamal district. There are reports of celebrations held in a peaceful atmosphere in the area which has witnessed anti-Christian violence, but an episode targeting the rev. Suranjan Nayak district coordinator of the Global Council of Indian Christians shows that fear and intimidation are always lurking.
The rev. Suranjan Nayak told AsiaNews: "Together with my wife, Indumati Nayak, we left our village to travel about 50 km away to celebrate Christmas with relatives. But around 9:30 we got a call from one of our neighbours, who told us that our car was on fire. I immediately notified the police, who sent agents to watch the house on Christmas Eve, until 26 December”.
According to some witnesses, a group of Hindu fundamentalists went to the hospital in Kandhamal, where the wife of rev. Nayak works as Superintendent of Nurses, on the evening of December 25. The radicals have attempted to set fire to the door of Indumati Digal Nayak’s office with kerosene, and finally set fire to the Nayak’s old Fiat for and left shouting aggressive slogans. The head of the police station decided to put Nayak’s home and office under protection.
Suspicions point to the radical Hindu Samanova Kui Samaj Samiti, (Ksss), because in a recent meeting that took place in the Kandhamal rev. Suranjan had clashed verbally with Lombodhar Kanha, Ksss leader in Kandhamal. In front of a government representative, Suranjan Nayak had harshly criticized Lombodhar Kanha, accusing his movement of creating problems and attacking peaceful Christians who only want to practice their faith. On that occasion the rev. Suranjan Nayak had asked the authorities to take measures against the radical Hindus.
Fr. Prabodh Kumar Pradhan, pastor of Raikai, who personally knows Suranjan toldAsiaNews: "This news is very worrying, because it occurred at a time of celebration and joy for all the Christians of the surrounding villages." The attack was strongly condemned by Sajan K. George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, who alerted the police.
Another source of tension in Orissa, has come from the distribution of a blasphemous picture of Jesus Christ as a greeting card distributed by Manohar Randhari, a local politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Christmas Day. The card shows Jesus with a cigarette and a beer, and has provoked protests by Christians in Nabrangpur district in Orissa. Sajan K. George has strongly condemned this act of provocation, all the more because of the "sensitive" area involved. The Christian community has protested and demanded the immediate arrest of Randhari Manohar, "because he has hurt religious sentiments"; protests blocked roads in various parts of the district. Randhari said he didn’t check the image printed on the card, and that " it was a mistake by the printing press in Bhubaneswar which printed hurriedly". He also went to a church to apologize, but was not admitted.