Curfew Imposed in Eastern India After Religious Riots བོད་སྐད།

Indian authorities have imposed a curfew in portions of eastern Orissa state, after clashes between Hindus and Christians have left at least eight people dead in recent days.

Police were deployed to the Kandhamal region of Orissa, where four people were killed Tuesday in an exchange of gunfire between rival religious groups in Barakhama village.

The violence began last Saturday, when a Hindu leader (Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati) and four others were shot and killed. Hindus blamed Christians for the killing, while police suspect Maoist rebels.

Since then, police say Hindus have attacked Christians. On Monday, officials say Hindus set fire to a church-run orphanage, killing one woman. In separate incidents, at least three others were killed when their homes were set on fire.

Today, the Vatican issued a statement criticizing the violence and calling for a return to a climate of dialogue and mutual respect.

Hindu extremists, who protest what they say is the forced conversion of poor Hindus to Christianity, have attacked Christians in the past.

Christians insist that low-caste Hindus are converting voluntarily. Christians make up one percent of the state population.