India is one of the largest and most populous countries of the world – it is inhabited by over 1.2 billion people. In such a big country Christians make just a small percent of the total population but still constitute a large community composed of millions of people.
The believers in Christ have unceasingly experienced repression from the Hinduist majority, who in recent years has won the support of the anti-Christian politicians ruling India. Persecution has often led to torturous death. This was also the case in the state of Odisha.
Odisha is one of the states in eastern India, which in 2008 became the arena for the most severe persecution of Christians in the modern history of India. The worst wave of persecutions was recorded in Kandhamal – the central region in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar diocese. Nearly 100 people lost their lives in result of persecutions and 50,000 were left homeless.
The victims included the elderly and disabled people as well as women and children.
They suffered torturous deaths but till the last moments of their lives they gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ. The number of the injured people or those who suffered psychological trauma has not been estimated. There have been reports of numerous rapes too. Many churches and other places of cult have been destroyed, many schools and charity organizations’ offices have been vandalized, around 50,000 people have been displaced and forced to stay at camps for the displaced persons, and more than 10,000 children had to discontinue education in result of displacement and in fear of persecution.
Archbishop John Barwa from the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar diocese has appointed a team to initiate the canonization process of the “Odisha Martyrs” with a view to proclaiming them saints by the Church.
The Christiani Foundation stays in close touch with Christians in Kandhamal and supports them both spiritually and financially. Therefore we appeal to all the faithful – to individuals, groups and communities for the unity with Christians persecuted in India.