The 2008 Kandhamal violence refers to violence between groups led by the Sangh Parivar, and Christians in the Kandhamal district of Orissa, India, in August 2008 after the murder of the Hindu monk Lakshmanananda Saraswati.
Tensions reportedly started with violent incidents over Christmas 2007 which resulted in the burning of over 100 Churches and Church institutions, including hostels, convents, and over 700 houses. Three persons were also killed during the three days after Christmas. The Hindutva groups and activists of the Kui Samaj were mostly involved in the 2007 attacks.
The intensity of violence began after the murder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati on 23 August by Maoists. According to the government reports the violence resulted in at least 39 people killed, all Christians. More than 395 Churches were vandalized or burnt down, over 5,600 houses plundered or burnt down, over 600 villages ransacked and more than 54,000 people left homeless. Reports put the death toll at nearly 100 and suggested more than 40 women were sexually assaulted. Many Christians were forced to convert to Hinduism under threat of violence This violence was led by the Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the VHP.
As we commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Kandhamal Day, we remember the dreaded series of violence that took place and the death of many Christians from the Tribal and Dalit communities. The politicization of faith, community, economic and the nation’s cold responses were some of the reasons why we commemorate the Kandhamal Day with pain. This is to say, this kind of instigated violence and hatred that had caused many innocent lives should never happen again in our society. In the midst of pain, we are thankful to all those who are working for the reconciliation and re-establishment of communities in Kandhamal, Phulbani district of Odhisa. May God continue to look upon and heal those who are yet to recover from this traumatic violence.