RSS or VHP behind attack on Christians in Phulbani

Activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad were behind the assault on two Christian missionaries in Phulbani district of Orissa recently, the police said on Tuesday.

The missionaries belonged to the Mother Teresa Shanti Nivas.

"Our investigation into the assault on Christian missionaries established the fact that accused persons in the case were either RSS or VHP activists," said the Phulbani Superintendent of Police, Sanjay Singh.

Singh said though there is no doubt that RSS or VHP men were behind the assault, it was yet to be established whether the accused were only RSS activists or from VHP also. Immediately after the assault on the missionaries on June 4, three RSS men had reportedly gone underground.

Police had launched an operation to nab them.

"Though they are absconding, we are sure to arrest them as soon as possible" Singh told

On June 4, miscreants assaulted two missionaries, Melvyn and Anuranjan, when they were distributing blankets and old clothes among the poor people.

After assaulting the missionaries, the miscreants snatched their vehicle and left it in a dense forest area about 20 km from Firangia, police sources said.

According to police sources, some local RSS activists had objected to the distribution of blankets and old clothes by the missionaries.

The RSS men saw the missionaries' act as a bid to convert poor tribals to Christianity. The activists were also reportedly irked by the fact that the distribution was being carried out on Rakhi Purnima day.

Even after objection by the RSS men, when the missionaries continued to distribute the clothes, one of the missionaries was manhandled and later on assaulted, sources said. After that they took away the missionaries' vehicle from the driver and ran away. The attack on minority Christians by right-wing Hindu organisations in Phulbani is not new.

Phulbani is known as one of the more communally sensitive area of Orissa. In recent months the district has witnessed a series of attacks against Christians, allegedly by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

These organisations have protested against the construction of new churches, youth hostel and creches by Christian organisations.

In view of such attacks, local Christians have formed a community protection squad called Rashtriya Suraksha Bahini.

The protection squad is the first of its kind in the country by Christians. "We feel that violence against Christian organisations and institutions has risen in the last one year and communal forces have become active," a member of the All-Orissa Christian Forum said.

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Referred by: Mukundan C.M.
Published on:August 7, 2001
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