India: A Second Death for Christians Massacred in Orissa

February 09, 2020

By deciding to acquit the Hindu perpetrators of the 2008 massacre of the Christians of Orissa, the Supreme Court of India caused anger and sadness within the Catholic community, determined to perpetuate the memory of its martyrs.

The feeling of injustice and great sadness prevails in the Archbishopric of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar: "No justice has been done. We have always hoped and prayed for justice, so that the criminals will be punished, and the victims will receive reparation, "said Bishop John Barwa to AsiaNews, January 27, 2020.

The prelate's bitterness is great: on January 25, the Supreme Court of New Delhi decided to acquit 3,700 defendants suspected of having participated in the summer of 2008, in the massacre of a hundred Christians in the state from Orissa, in eastern India.

According to Indian journalist Anto Akkara, author of a book on the martyrs of Orissa, "the violence in Kandhamal was the most painful episode in the history of Christianity in India".

In addition to the massacres, more than 300 churches and 6,000 Christian homes were destroyed or damaged, causing the exodus of more than 56,000 refugees from a region covered with jungle. Similarly, several dozen convents, presbyteries and dispensaries were brutally attacked and ransacked. Antichristian violence "minutely planned and orchestrated at the highest level", explains Anto Akkara.

Bishop Barwa explains that the plenary assembly of the Conference of Bishops of India will meet in 2020 in Orissa: "It will be a very strong moment, because we will take the bishops to the scene of the massacres. I am sure it will be a moment of blessing for our people, to strengthen our faith and give us courage.”