Concerned over continuing attacks on Christians and over the government's failure to take swift action to halt them, the heads of major churches in the Indian state of Orissa, where some of the worst attacks have occurred, have set up a group of young Christians "to peacefully confront attacks on the Christian community."

Church leaders in Orissa, in the east of India, stressed in interviews with ENI that the new Christian youth organization, Rashtriya Surakshya Vahini (RSV - National Safety Vehicle), will not be a vigilante group and will not resort to violence.

The establishment of the RSV was announced on October 22 by Roman Catholic and Protestant church leaders at a press conference at the Catholic archbishop's residence in Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa state.

"Churches and Christians continue to be attacked. But the government is doing nothing to stop it," Ranjit Pradhan, a Baptist leader who played a key role in setting up the RSV, later told ENI.

Pradhan, who is president of the All Orissa United Christian Forum (AOUCF), said that initially the RSV would have five units, each with 100 young Christians as members, based in the troubled Kandhmal district of north Orissa.

Pradhan, who lives in the town of Udaigiri in Kandhmal, said that since April a total of 22 attacks on Christians by Hindu fundamentalists had been recorded in the region. The aim of the RSV was "to counter the RSS and others through non-violence."

The RSS - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - is India's leading Hindu fundamentalist organization. Pradhan said that the name of the Christian youth group had been deliberately chosen to sound "similar to RSS."

Four church buildings in Kandhmal (two Baptist and two Catholic buildings) were damaged in the first week ...

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