Sandro Magister has an interesting article analysing what has been cited as the real reason for the violence: the work that Christians are carrying out to help "Dalits" and others at the bottom of the Indian Caste system. (Cf. In India, the Christians' Offense Is Fighting Against Slavery)
It is interesting to see the subtle bias in the BBC report on the matter:
The BBC's Rahul Tandon in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, says it is a complex issue - Hindu groups have long accused Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith."Complex issue" is standard MSM-speak for "I don't want to say anything in support of Christians/pro-lifers etc., but can't overtly attack them here"; "bribing to change their faith" and "converting to escape" are, of course, heavily loaded expressions, implying that both the charitable work and the conversions are insincere.
Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape the Hindu caste system.
Here is how Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Chuttack-Bhubaneswar put it:
"Before, they were like slaves. Now, some of them study in our schools, start businesses in the villages, demand their rights. And those who – even in the India of the economic boom – want to keep intact the old division into castes are afraid that they will gain too much power. Orissa today is a laboratory. What is at stake is the future of millions of Dalits and tribals living all over the country."If you offer a slave freedom in the name of Christianity, it may well be that he will take a hard look at the Christian faith in contrast to a religious system that would see him retained as the lowest of the low. To suggest that this is bribery or that the "conversion" comes first, before the aid is given, is tendentious. Christians do not make their charitable work conditional upon conversion - it is given freely because of what Christians believe about the corporal works of mercy and our duty to assist the poor. To describe it as bribery or to imply that subsequent conversions are not sincere is an appallingly partisan approach to reporting this issue. It also gives comfort to those who do increasingly look like old-fashioned fascists, wanting to keep down those they regard as sub-human.
For the latest information, go to the All India Christian Council report on anti-Christian attacks in Orissa.