The police in Orissa have arrested two Christian leaders, based on accusations that the Christian community in India defines as "false and intimidating". At 4.30 last night, in Baliguda, the police arrested Junus Pradhan (46 years old), President of the "Christian Jana Kalyan Samaj", an organization which is active among impoversihed tribal Christians in Kandhamal district, which was the scene of massacres of Christians in 2008. Pradhan is accused of collaborating with the Maoist and Naxalite guerrillas in the region.

In another raid, police officers in the area of Raikia burst into the home of Sukadeb Digal, a 33-year-old Baptist pastor in the village of Sipainju, also in the Kandhamal District, accusing him of carrying out "illegal and fraudulent conversions".

In a note sent by the "Global Council for Indian Christians", an ecumenical association that defends the rights of Christians, says that in both cases, it has to do with "false accusations, which intend to intimidate and discredit those Christians leaders committed for the rights, freedoms, promotion and social development of the Christians in Kandhamal district", who still bear the scars of violence. Today, Christians in India are among the most disadvantaged, suffering systematic discrimination by Hindus and the government. They are paid substandard wages, subjected to abuse by employers, and frequently are not accorded justice in the courts.

As reported by Brother K.J. Markose, a Catholic missionary and human rights activist who works in Orissa, "the Christian community in Kandhamal district is becoming more and more courageous and the faithful begin to assert their rights as Indian citizens". A few days ago in Raikia, where Pastor Digal was arrested, Catholic Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar went on a pastoral visit to bring comfort and hope to families there. Archbishop Barwa remarked, "Christians are coming out of their catacombs" and, even during the Christmas celebrations held several public meetings and showed the courage to witness faith openly.  



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