In August 2008, anti-Christian riots swept across the Kandhamal district of India’s Odisha state. After more than a month of violence, 120 Christian were dead, 8,000 Christians homes were destroyed or looted, and 56,000 people were displaced. The 2008 Kandhamal Riots are still considered India’s worst instance of Christian persecution.
Recently, Uglu Sandi Majhi, a Christian survivor of the riots, spoke with Asia News to recalled those dark days.
“I hid with my family in the forest,” Majhi told Asia News. “My son, Lombusandi Majhi was two years old. We were without food or shelter for three days.”
Originally from the village of Geret, located in Kandhamal, Majhi and 11 other Christian families were forced to flee their homes when the mobs of Hindu radicals attacked.
“The criminals brought lorries to loot everything we had in the house,” Majhi explained. “They took the harvest, the kitchen utensils and the chairs. Then they set the village on fire.”
“Rain started, heavy, but we had no other place to go,” Majhi continued. “Eventually my son died of cold, hunger and thirst in the jungle.”
Kandhamal’s Christian community became the target of the mob’s rage after the murder of Swami Laxamananda Saraswati. While Maoist insurgents officially claimed the murder of the Hindu priest, radicals blamed local Christians. Despite the suffering Majhi experienced because of his faith, he remains strong in his commitment to Jesus.
“My son is dead, my house no longer exists because my village has been destroyed, but I cannot deny my faith in Jesus Christ,” Majhi told Asia News. Now living in the village of Gosipakal, Majhi remains a committed Christian.
“The faith of the people of Geret, forced to flee into the forest, is very strong,” Father Pradosh Chandra Nayak told Asia News. “[Majhi] in particular is a true believer in Jesus Christ, despite losing his son and property during the anti-Christian violence.”