Extremist Hindu groups offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes, according to Christian aid workers in the eastern India state of Orissa.
The U.S.-based head of Good News India, a Christian organization that runs several orphanages in Orissa — one of India’s poorest regions — claims that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and carry a price on their heads. "The going price to kill a pastor is $250," said Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India.
A spokesman for the All-India Christian Council said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties. They are being offered foreign liquor, chicken, mutton and weapons. They are given petrol and kerosene.”
Ram Madhav, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest hardline Hindu group, denied the claims. “The accusation is absolutely false,” he said.
Orissa has suffered a series of murders and arson attacks in recent months, with at least 67 Christians killed, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Several thousand homes have been razed and hundreds of places of worship destroyed, and crops are now wasting in the fields.
In recent weeks, the violence has subsided but at least 11,000 Christian refugees remain in camps in Kandhamal, the district worst affected. “They are too scared to go home. They know that if they return to their villages they will be forced to convert to Hinduism,” Father Manoj, who is based at the Archbishop’s office in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa's capital, said.