Religious violence in rural India

Photo Essay: In late 2008, an incensed mob of local tribes and Hindu radicals in the Indian state of Orissa descended on neighboring Christian towns, burning churches and killing those who did not flee into the surrounding jungle.

Christian children from a nearby refugee camp explore the interior of a church that was partially damaged and gutted by fire during the riots.

A member of India’s paramilitary forces stands guard at a tent camp for Christians forced out during the violence.

A Christian man who’s home was destroyed by a local mob attempts to bolster the fittings for his tent-home before onset of the annual monsoon season.

A caretaker for a local Baptist church in tribal Orissa. He was injured while defending the church from a mob intending to raze the building.

A congregation meets at a local Baptist church deep in the jungles of Kandhamal District, Orissa for Sunday Mass. According to the current minister (center in yellow), the church’s former minister was beaten to death and crucified in front of the building on the first night of violence.

Left – A Baptist minister waits dutifully for his congregation to arrive for Wednesday evening prayers. Many Christians were still too afraid to be seen attending church in the months following the riots. Right – A defaced portrait of Jesus Christ stands as a grim reminder of the violence that occurred a Christian village.

Chefs and waitstaff at a local Hindu restaurant in a local village that many in the area say was a flashpoint for the mob who then went on to neighboring Christian towns.

A local Hindu girl plays in the ruins of a Christian town whose occupants had since emptied into the more-protected refugee sites.

A Baptist minister conducts his sermon with only one person in attendance. Even after several months, many local Christians were too afraid to return to their places of worship out of fear of further violence.