Church burns as Indian religious riots spread

Hindu mobs ransacked a church and clashed with Christian villagers in eastern India as authorities struggled to control spiralling religious violence in the region, police said today.

The mobs have destroyed more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians in eastern Orissa state this week after the murder of a Hindu leader in Kandhamal district, a tribal area where Christian missionaries have been active for years.



Shoot-on-sight orders and curfews to control violence have so far failed to end clashes that have killed at least 11 people.



Police deployed more than 3,000 personnel in the streets today but they could not stop the ransacking of at least one church. Local media said as many as four churches were attacked.



"Police are marching in several areas now," Orissa police chief Gopal Chandra Nanda told Reuters.



Television pictures showed mobs armed with rods putting up road blocks and others attacking churches. Other mobs armed with bows and arrows and axes have attacked Christian homes, dragging out women and children. Hundreds have fled to forests and nearby hills, officials said.



"Moments after we passed by a Christian village, people set it on fire and everything was over within minutes," a senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said from Kandhamal, the worst-hit district.



India's constitution is secular, but most of its billion-plus citizens are Hindu. About 2.5 per cent of Indians are Christians. But around the Kandhamal area, home to around 650,000 people, more than 20 per cent of the mainly tribal inhabitants are Christian converts.



Religious violence has troubled tribal regions of Orissa for years, with Hindus and Christians fighting over conversions.



While Hindu groups accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith, the Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape a complex Hindu caste system.



The killings have drawn international reactions. Pope Benedict has condemned the violence against Christians in Orissa but also deplored the killing of the Hindu leader.



Today, peace committees were set up in villages to bring community leaders together for talks, but Christians in many villages said attacks were worse than what the government has said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
music
News
Frankie Boyle
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - North West - Registered Charity

£31800 - £35400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This registered charity's missi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative - OTE £55,000

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Why not be in charge of your ow...

Recruitment Genius: Business Operations Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Peac...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food