Ten years ago, he broke from the family to choose his religion. They are grateful that he did.
On September 27, a mob descended on Sukananda in Kandhamal district. Koga Naik watched in horror as rioters moved to a nearby house. “I heard some noises. I knew the rioters had struck. I called my parents and my uncle when I saw they were attacking their houses. I hid them behind hay stacks," said the 31-year-old primary school teacher. Koga was spared because he is a Hindu. His parents and uncle, however, are Christians.
Koga converted to Hinduism some 10 years ago. His parents and uncle are practising Christians. They now live in a relief camp in G Udaigiri town, 3 km from their village.
“They burnt my father's house, I couldn’t do anything. They would have killed them, had I not given them shelter. It’s sad but true my religion saved my family,” said Koga.
Uncle Sukanto Naik (51) is grateful. “At a around 11 pm a mob attacked my house. My nephew lives next door. I ran to his house, for me it was the safest place on earth,” Sukanto, who ran a tea stall from his house, said, clutching firmly the cross he was wearing. Two churches opposite his house were damaged.
Sukanto had come to the village to get vegetables from his kitchen garden, which he hopes will provide for him now that the tea stall is gone.
His camp is not far, but he can’t return home till its safe. “I’m a Christian after all."