India: Tens of Thousands who fled murderers in August are still hiding in the forest

The people hiding in forests are mainly from the Gadaguda and
Sirsapanga areas. They fled from their homes after riots erupted in
the region following the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader
Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on
Aug 23. “The tribals had recently visited their villages but fled to
the forest again. We are trying to reach them,” Kumar said.

At least
38 people were killed and thousands others were forced to flee their
homes in Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, after they were
attacked by rampaging Hindu mobs who accused Christians of having
killed Saraswati. District authorities said there has been no violence
since October and the situation is normal. But about 8,000 Christians
are still living in six government-run relief camps and do not want to
go back home for fear of being attacked.

“Besides those living in
relief camps in the district, around 15,000 Christians are living
outside Kandhamal and are scared of returning home because many of the
rioters are still at large and the police are not arresting them,”
said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian
Christians. Leaders of some Hindu groups say as many as 12,000 members
of the community are hiding in forests for fear of the police since
about 100,000 of Kandhamal’s nearly 600,000 residents have been
charged with rioting.

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