Staff Reporter

Victims of Kandhamal violence recount tales of horror

Some 300 Christians who fled their homes are housed in relief camps in Srikakulam

Even three months after the tragedy, they are reluctant to return home

Srikakulam: It is no happy Christmas for more than 300 Christians who fled Orissa horrified at the persecution by communal elements. This Christmas season, darkness is ruling the roost in Christian relief camps. The song “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” reminds them of the horrors of attacks last December as well as recently.

About three hundred members of Christian community along with children and women hailing from Kandhamal district in Orissa who fled their native villages terrified at the attack of their homes and churches by the communal elements are still living in relief camps of their own in several places in Srikakulam district .

Even three months after the attacks in Christian-dominated villages in Kandhamal district, the persecuted believers are disinclined to return to their native villages as according to their informed sources, persecution of Christian community is still going on unabated.

As many as 105 families who fled their native villages in Orissa are living in temporary camps at Kinchalingi and Kudamasingi villages, 15 km away from Palasa. Besides another 102 families are living in Koligami village in the same mandal. Also there are other small camps operating in several mandals in Srikakulam district which are located in churches and community halls. Many Christian organisations have come forward to feed them on a daily basis but those enjoying the hospitality of the church are feeling uncertain about their future as they are scared to return to their native villages.

Benthu Mohan hailing from Barakhama village in Kandhamal district who fled his native village two months ago recalls the horror they were subjected to when their houses and church were set ablaze by exploding their gas cylinders. He said more than an estimated 100 people were killed leaving many orphaned and women reduced to widows.

Santhu Yacob of Brahmanigaon village said that he had to hide under a cot in one of his Hindu friends’ house for three days eating nothing when Bajrang Dal activists went on targeting Christian community members. He said that hundreds of families were still scattered into the tribal villages on the Orissa and AP border in the Srikakulam district.

Sahu, a 10-year-old boy whose parents had been burnt to death in his village, stares into the emptiness with a blank face. He says that he stopped going to school for three months after he fled his native village along with his neighbours.