By Fr. Sunil De Silva, Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka
In July 2008 a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22-year-old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, another nun was gang-raped in Kandhamal, mobs attacked, torched vehicles, houses of Christians were destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes.
Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering. In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles. In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, at the same time of the day of the attack.
These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms.
Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants. Seven people have been killed and several others injured in attacks by a herd of 12-13 elephants over the past few weeks in Kandhamal district. Over 2,500 people living in 45 villages have been affected by the attacks, district chief Krishen Kumar said.
|The total number of Catholic priests, men and women religious and seminarians killed during 2009 was 37, the highest number in the last 10 years. But many Pentecostal Orissan believers have been killed as well. Persecution knows no denomination!|
It is, however, unclear why this herd of elephants migrated from the Lakheri sanctuary in a neighboring district. He said the herd had travelled some 300km into Kandhamal, and even entered a town in the district. Wildlife officials were camping at the site of the attacks and trying to find out why the elephants had come out of their sanctuary.
The villagers say elephants attack their areas in herds, causing heavy destruction. Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes, demolishing gardens and singling out the home of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched.
These strange attacks have spread, and according to a report, the elephants have already destroyed more than 700 houses in 30 villages, and killed five people. Nobody in this area has seen or even imagined the unique appearance of a herd of wild elephants such as this.
The elephants are not ordinary elephants; they appear to be on a mission. Typically, smaller elephants enter a village first, appearing to survey the community. They then rejoin the larger herd, and larger elephants soon follow and get the job done.
The ministry partner in India stated: “We think that it might have something to do with avenging the blood of martyrs. In fact the fear of God has fallen on the local people, who have labeled these elephants “Christian elephants.”
With little help coming from the administration, the villagers have taken to road blockades. The elephants have destroyed crops and selected houses. But officials too express helplessness.
UPDATE 1/1/2010 half a year later
Man killed, woman injured in elephant attack
Source : Press Trust of India, published on : 1/1/2010 8:14:57 AM
Rourkela: A 60-year-old man was trampled to death and a woman got injured in an attack by wild elephants at Erla village in Orissa’s Sundargarh district, 45 km from here.
The herd, comprising 15 wild elephants from bordering Saranda forest in Jharkhand, entered into the village on Wednesday and trampled to death Kastu Kumbhar and injured one Etaari Munda (60), police said.
The elephants also damaged at least 10 houses of the village and ate about 20 quintals of paddy stored in their houses, they said. Police, forest and local district officials have reached the village and announced financial assistance of Rs one lakh to the victim, sources said.
Houses will also be built under ‘Indira Awas Yojana’ and ‘Mo Kudia Yojana’ to the families who lost their houses.
Hindu extremist MP sentenced for killings in Orissa anti-Christian pogrom
by Santosh Digal
Manoj Pradhan will serve six years in prison and pay a fine for killing a Christian during the pogroms of 2008. In June he was convicted of another murder, but the Orissa High Court had granted him freedom on probation. Christian’s lawyer: “Now the victims can begin to have a little confidence in Indian legal system.”
Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – Kandhamal district court today sentenced to six years imprisonment Manoj Pradhan, a deputy for Orissa of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for the murder of Vikram Nayak, a Christian killed during the pogroms of 2008. The Hindu extremist – who also belongs to the radical group Sangha Parivar – will have to pay a fine of 250 Euros for legal costs.
The news was welcomed by the Christians of Kandhamal, who are still waiting for justice two years on from the pogroms. “Pradhan’s conviction – said Fr Dibakabr Parichha, a lawyer and supervisor of the trial – gives a ray of hope to victims of the pogrom in Kandhamal. ” According to Markos Joseph Kunnumpurath, a lawyer who has been representing Christians at trials in recent years, “now the victims can return to have a little confidence in Indian legal system.”
Among the main perpetrators of violence, Pradhan has been cited in 38 murder cases. Of these only six have been considered by the court. On 29 June the tribunal sentenced him to seven years for the murder of another Christian, Parikh Naik. The sentence was never served thanks to the Orissa High Court, which granted him freedom on probation.
Between December 2007 and August 2008, Hindu extremists killed 93 people, burned and looted more than 6,500 houses, destroyed over 350and 45 schools. Because of the pogroms, over 50 thousand people fled into the forest, many of them are still living in refugee camps. Others who returned to their villages, were forced to reconvert to Hinduism. To date, most perpetrators are free and at the trials in Kandhamal court witnesses have been silenced with threats and discrimination.
DOWNLOAD OUR POWERPOINT ON THE SIX INDIAN WISE MEN AND THE ELEPHANT
Ofschoon het eerder voorgekomen is dat een olifant een dorp binnenkwam en aanzienlijke schade aanrichtte, is een dergelijk gedrag onbekend.
Een jonge, 22-jarige non werd levend verbrand toen een boze menigte een weeshuis in brand zette.
Wat heeft dat te maken met de gewelddadige olifanten?
Waarom de olifanten dit doen is niet duidelijk.
Bijzonder ook is het feit dat de olifanten niet uit Orissa komen, maar uit een provincie meer dan 300 kilometer bij Orissa vandaan.
“Waarom lopen die beesten zo’n enorme afstand om hier hun vernietigende werk te doen?” aldus een plaatselijke boer.
Voor de plaatselijke bevolking is het olifantengedrag een ramp. De olifanten banjeren door hun dorp en vernietigen bijna alles wat ze op hun pad tegenkomen. Dat wil zeggen, bijna alles…
Alles wat behoort aan niet- Christenen en wel in het bijzonder aan mensen die mee hebben gedaan met de zware vervolging.
In een ander deel van Orissa hebben de olifanten meer dan 700 huizen vernietigd en zijn er nog eens vijf mensen omgekomen. Niemand heeft ooit eerder zoiets meegemaakt.
Een ding is zeker, de vreze van God is op de plaatselijke bevolking gevallen. De olifanten zijn inmiddels omgedoopt to ‘Christelijke olifanten’.
Bewoners hebben obstakels neergezet op de wegen die naar hun dorpen leiden om de olifanten buiten te houden, maar vooralsnog heeft niets echt gewerkt.