Faith in the Season of Lent : Dr John Dayal
Village Dhobatala, District Bhadrak , State Odisha
Photo of small farmer Manoj K nayak, and the house of a Dalit, Rabindra Jena, also a petty farmer.
The village has 15 to 20 Christian families in Three clusters
The first conversion to Christianity took place 17 years ago, after Manoj Nayak came across a Gospel tract and was attracted to read the Bible despite stiff resistance by his parents. A Kolkata group helped train and baptized him. Villagers however are not reconciled to his conversion.
Sporadic cases of anti Christian violence mostly center around the use of government land which upper castes forcibly take, and do not allow dalits and others to cultivate.
Nayak had constructed a small asbestos roofed prayer hall on his land near the village common land. A mob attacked and demolished the structure. They also allegedly dug up two graves near the road to the village, and it exposed bones causing some consternation – is it of a human or of an animal. No one has so far tried to find out.
The small Christian community now prays in houses behind closed doors. They are ostracized by the local majority communities, he says. Complaints to the government have had no impact. Applications to the state Human Rights Commission have been even more useless. The Commission sent the reports to the Police, who are accused by the victims of not taking any action. The Police now tell the Commission that ‘nothing has happened. No church has been demolished’.
We live in fear, but in faith, says Nayak.
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