Hindu extremists move to stop yuletide celebrations as suffering in Kandhamal continues.
NEW DELHI, December 3 (Compass Direct News) – Christians in Orissa state are anticipating Christmas with fear as Hindu extremists have called for a state-wide bandh, or forced shut-down on all sectors of society, on Dec. 25 – a move that could provide Hindu extremists the pretext for attacking anyone publicly celebrating the birth of Christ. The state’s chief minister has said there should be no such shut-down but stopped short of prohibiting the Hindu extremists’ plan, and the Hindu extremist umbrella organization Sangh Parivar has vowed to press ahead with it, reported newspaper Outlook India on Nov. 20. Though such shut-downs were declared illegal by India’s Supreme Court in 1998, the president of the Laxmanananda Saraswati Condolence Society (SLSSS) sent a threatening notice to the Orissa government on Nov. 15, warning that the Hindu extremist group would impose a bandh on Christmas unless the state government arrested those who murdered Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 23. Ratnakar Chaini, president of SLSSS, called for the shut-down in a massive rally in Delhi on Nov. 15. Inflammatory speeches at the rally by Chaini and others led Christians to believe the shut-down would serve as the pretext for another spate of violence against those publicly celebrating Christmas. At the same time, in Orissa’s Kandhamal district, more deaths of Christians have been reported in the past two weeks.