Looking low and dejected, a Church leader from Orissa warned on Sunday that if the government failed to stop attacks on his community, Christians in the state will be forced to raise a militia for self-defence.
"All that the governments have been doing, both in the state and at the centre, is paint an illusion. Beautiful, but hollow words is all they have to offer. It's been eight days and the violence continues. If such a situation persists, we will have no option but to form our own 'Suraksha Vahini'," the priest told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The priest, who is based in Bhubaneshwar and who reached New Delhi on Aug 26, said he did not want to be quoted by name because he had already received death threats and feared for his life. He spoke in the church premises in the heart of the capital.
The Church leader might be in a delegation set to meet President Pratibha Patil on Monday. He said, however, that not many were hopeful.
"We met the prime minister, the home minister and will meet the president on Monday. However, I have my doubts that anything fruitful will come out of it. All that we keep getting are fine words that 'this will be done and that will be done'. In reality not only Kandhamal but many districts in Orissa are burning," the church member said.
"I have told people from Orissa to say they are not Christians in order to save their lives. You can follow religion as long as you are alive. This sadly is increasingly becoming an intolerant society," he added.
Orissa has been on the boil since the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and four others Aug 23 by suspected Maoist guerrillas sparked off a wave of anti-Christian violence that has left 13 dead. Hundreds of people have fled their homes.
Radical Hindu groups in the state alleged that Christians killed Saraswati because he opposed religious conversion. Christian groups deny this.
Another senior Church member from Delhi, said that the number of dead in Orissa was much more than what the authorities were admitting.
"The state government says peace is being restored and people are returning to their homes. Which homes are they talking about? The ones that have been burnt down?"