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Anti-Christian violence in India detailed in US hearing
Los Angeles, 24 February 2014: Some of the worst anti-Christian violence in recent years has come not from Islamic extremists but from Hindu nationalists in India, an expert told a hearing in the U.S.
John L. Allen, Jr., author of “The Global War on Christians,” Thursday told the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations that one reason Christians are increasingly persecuted is that Christianity is expanding in countries where religious freedom is lacking.
Some states in India are prime examples. While most estimates of deaths from the 2008 attacks in India’s Orissa (now Odisha) state are around 100, Allen said the figure could be as high as 500.
“In 2008, a series of riots ended with as many as 500 Christians killed, many hacked to death by machete-wielding Hindu radicals, and thousands more injured and at least 50,000 left homeless,” he said.
Tehmina Arora, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom-India, told the subcommittee that the impunity that violent mobs enjoy is an important factor in anti-Christian persecution in India.
“Police resist filing criminal complaints and have on several instances allegedly threatened to falsely incriminate victims in some cases,” she said.
“The hostility of the state machinery towards the victims of communal and targeted violence was most evident in the aftermath of the violence in Orissa. The National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal, a private inquiry titled ‘Waiting for Justice’ clearly outlined the apathy of the state administration towards the victims and their families. The report also highlighted the fear faced by victims and survivors as well as the refusal of police to register complaints.”
In many cases, only orders from the High Court in Orissa prompted police to file reports against assailants, Arora said. In one case, a Christian whose house was burned down filed a report but no case was registered against the named suspects.
As in other states, the government of Orissa has failed to effectively prosecute those accused of carrying out violent attacks against the Christian community, Arora said.
Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, statistics show that of 827 reports filed, charges were brought in only 512. Just 75 cases ended in convictions, with only 477 people convicted, primarily for smaller or “petty” offences such as burning of houses and damaging property, she said.
Elliott Abrams, a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told the subcommittee that lack of an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom has sent a message of apathy to countries that routinely persecute religious minorities.