Dalit Christians in India protest

By May 30, 2007

India (MNN) — At least 3,000 Christians, Dalits, and rights activists from across India joined together to protest against the "silence" of the government on the alleged rise in anti-Christian attacks.

The rally was called "Stop Violence on Christians" and included the All India Christian Council, (AICC) president Joseph Dsouza, National Integration Council member John Dayal, Justice Party president Udit Raj, and Mount Carmel School principal V.K. Williams. They warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his silence could lead to killing of innocent people at the hands of communal forces.

"The protest is in the wake of attacks on Pastor Walter Masih in Jaipur, Rajasthan on April 19 and priests Ramesh Gopargode and Ajit Belavi on May 7 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and a high incidence of communal assaults this year thus far," Madhu Chandra, an AICC leader, told IANS.

Chandra said that in 2006, the AICC recorded at least one incident of anti-Christian attack every third day, "but this rose to one attack every alternate day during the first four months of this year".

Many Christians believe these attacks are coming because of the large number of people who are turning to Christ. Hindu nationalists view this as a threat to the Indian culture.

People from Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh were a part of the rally. Also present were victims of violence, including three people who were allegedly tortured and forcibly "reconverted" to Hinduism on May 23.

One protestor says Christianity had been reduced to a "daylight religion" because "the people of the community feel unsafe after sunset."

Expressing disappointment with the Congress party that leads the UPA, Dayal added that it was no longer only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that should be blamed for anti-Christian agenda. "Look at the Congress-government in Himachal Pradesh, which enacted the anti-conversion law," he said.

Offering Dalits' support to the Christian community, Raj added that they should "learn to identify their friends."

The crowd left the Parliament Street police station, where they courted arrest, at 2.15 p.m. after an official announced that there were not enough jails to keep such a huge number of people.

Christians in Mumbai also staged a rally in a display of solidarity.

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