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Indian cardinal: victims of anti-Catholic pogrom were martyrs

August 26, 2016

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai has said that the Christians killed during a savage burst of religious violence in 2008 in the Kandhamal region deserve to be recognized as martyrs.

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Speaking to the AsiaNews service, as Christians in India prepare for an August 30 observance of the victims, the president of the Indian bishops' conference voiced his hope that those killed in Kandhamal "may soon be raised to the altar of the martyrs." 

The spasm of violence that tore through Kandhamal-- a remote section of eastern Orissa state-- began when a prominent Hindu-nationalist leader was killed, and his followers blamed Christians for the slaying. (Evidence later emerged that the crime was committed by a Maoist group.) Mobs of Hindu militants attacked Christian villages, leaving more than 100 dead and driving tens of thousands of people into hiding in the forests.

The Indian bishops have called repeatedly for prosecution of those who incited the violence, and compensation of the victims. To date these pleas have been unsuccessful.


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