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Anti-Christian violence erupts in Orissa, India

Widespread mob violence against the Christian community in Orissa state began on August 24 following the assassination of World Hindu Council (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on the evening of August 23. Saraswati, the leader allegedly responsible for inciting attacks on Christians in Orissa's Kandhamal district last Christmas, was killed along with four of his followers when approximately 30 armed men stormed a religious centre in Kandhamal district and opened fire. Despite evidence indicating that Maoists are responsible for Saraswati's murder, several Hindu militant groups have blamed Christians. As a result, Hindu militants have launched attacks on Christians throughout the state, setting buildings on fire and beating and killing believers in at least 12 districts. The Voice of the Martyrs has been receiving numerous reports from various sources on this developing crisis. At present, it is difficult to know the full extent of what is happening in Orissa.

Churches and Christian missions destroyed

The Bethel Association orphanage before the destruction
Churches, mission buildings and schools throughout the state have been damaged, ransacked or destroyed in the attacks. Militants set fire to a social centre in the village of Nuagaon, Kandhamal district after gang-raping a nun who was at the facility. The Bethel Association, an orphanage in the district of Rayagada, was burned to the ground.
Firefighters douse flames at the Bargarh orphanage
Photo from

The mission was home to 150 children, many of them from families who have suffered persecution for their faith. In Bargarh district, another orphanage was torched and a young woman was burned alive after she was thrown inside the building when she tried to protect the children. At least 20 churches have reportedly been destroyed, but the extent of the damage has not been ascertained as reports continue to be released from the affected regions.

Attacks on Christian homes and shops

150 houses belonging to Christians have been reportedly burned to the ground by militants in the village of Rupagaon, Kandhamal alone. A paralyzed man was unable to escape his burning house and was killed. Houses have also been ransacked, pelted with stones and vandalized throughout the state. Christian-owned shops have been torched and looted. Many Christians have fled their homes and are seeking refuge in the jungle.

Although police have attempted to protect Christians and end the attacks in Orissa, the violence has continued to occur. Militant groups have blocked roads with logs in order to keep the police away. Christian groups continue to beseech government authorities to intervene and end the violence.

Pray that law and order will be restored in Orissa state. Pray that those responsible for these attacks will be brought to justice. Ask God to give strength to Christians in Orissa state to remain steadfast in their faith in this time of severe suffering (1 Peter 5:8-10). Pray for those who have lost loved ones and property in the riots.

To view a video report on the violence in Orissa, visit VOMC's weblog at persecutedchurch.blogspot.com. For more information on the persecution of Christians in India, go to the India Country Report.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC VOMC assists persecuted Christians with legal support and rehabilitation assistance, and cares for children of martyrs by providing them with a safe place to be nurtured physical and spiritually. VOMC also partners to equip Christians in India with Biblical training and works to strengthen and support marginalized and persecuted Christian women. Additionally, VOMC helps to provide medical assistance to believers who have faced injuries after being attacked.”

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Legal Defense, Relief and Development, Women’s Ministry, Medical Fund

Country Information


1,339,330,514 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Indo-Aryan (72), Dravidian (25), Mongoloid and other (3)

Religion (%)
Hinduism (79.8), Muslim (14.2), Christianity (2.3), Sikh (1.7), other (2)

President Ram Nath Kovind (2017)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Based on English common law; separate personal law codes apply to Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for India

Despite the intimidation and violence that have taken place in many of India's states, may Christians wisely yet unashamedly preach the Gospel. Pray that indigenous Christians and foreign missionaries will minister in ways that do not hint at fraudulent conversions, unmasking the intentions behind the anti-conversion legislation. Intercede for India's leaders, that they may reign with justice and righteousness.


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