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Police guard churches on anniversary of violence in Orissa

Catholic World News - August 23, 2011

Christians in India’s troubled Orissa state heaved a sigh of relief on August 23, as a massive rally organized by Hindu militants ended without incident.

The Hindus’ rally was called to mark the 3rd anniversary of the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, in Orissa’s Kandhamal jungle district. Although Maoist rebels promptly claimed responsibility for the killing, Hindu fundamentalist groups charged that the murder was a Christian Conspiracy, and their calls for vengeance triggered a burst of violence that left more than 90 Christians dead, more than 300 churches and 6,000 homes destroyed, and nearly 60,000 people driven from their homes.

However, this year’s anniversary of the Hindu leader’s death passed peacefully. “Nothing untoward happened” during the 5-hour rally, attended by about 4,000 Hindu activists, reported Father Matthew Puthyadam, a parish priest in Kandhamal. He revealed that police had been guarding his parish church for several days leading up to the rally.

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