By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor July 28, 2015
BHUBANESWAR, India – Because of the dramatic events that unfolded there, certain places have come to symbolize entire movements or chapters of history. “Gettysburg,” for instance, immediately evokes the American Civil War, just as “Tiananmen Square” is now universal shorthand for non-violent protest.
In similar fashion, in terms of contemporary anti-Christian persecution, “Kandhamal” may be the single word that best captures the whole story.
Kandhamal is a district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, where an orgy of violence descended upon the impoverished Christian minority in August, 2008. A series of riots led by radical Hindus left roughly 100 people dead, thousands injured, 300 churches and 6,000 homes destroyed, and 50,000 people displaced, many forced to hide in nearby forests where more died of hunger and snakebites.