Indian government urged to protect Christians

By May 15, 2007

India (MNN/RI) — Christians in India are taking a more
proactive approach to their safety as attacks against them are occuring at an
alarming rate. 

Their plight has been highlighted in a letter to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh from the All India Christian Council (AICC).

In
the letter, Dr Joseph D'souza, president of AICC, complains of large mobs
brutalizing Christian pastors "in various parts of the country" over
the last two weeks, reports the Religious Intelligence.

A Tamil pastor was punched and another attacked in Maharashtra, while another
pastor was attacked in front of his daughter in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Dr D'souza
said that the Christian community was "traumatized" by these events.

However, he said that politicians have responded only with "a smug silence
from all governments."

"There is little doubt now that Hindutva extremists are running a series
of planned attacks against the Christian community for over a year now,"
said Dr D'souza, referring to the rape of women in Madhya Pradesh in May 2006,
apparently the sole reason being their Christian faith.

He said that Hindutva leaders had encouraged the violence, while no voice of
authority had spoken out, "much less to caution them of punishment under the
law of the land."

In addition, said Dr D'souza, not a day goes by without reports of anti-Christian
violence in Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa,
Karnataka, Andhra, Maharashtra and Himachal.

"The most heinous of all of these reports," he went on, "is sexual violence
against Christian women, particularly in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh."

He added that it was not enough for the central Government to say that the
issues involved were matters for each state. "In all this violence, the
community has never retaliated or taken recourse to any form of violence. There
never has been a communal riot involving Christians anywhere in the
country," he added.

"The fault indeed squarely lies with the Central Government, which was
voted to power by Dalits, minorities, and the majority poor who hoped that the
new UPA Government would at least insist upon the rule of the law and protect
the minorities and Dalits."

"The lack of protection is all the more painful as the vast majority of
Christian workers and communities in north India are Dalits, tribals, or from
the most backward castes. These are the communities which are bearing the brunt
of the attacks," he warned.

A repeal of the anti-conversion law in Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh
were important first steps to restoring human rights to Christian groups, he
urged.

But he also called for state governments to give protection to Christian places
of worship and to prosecute the perpetrators of hate crimes.

Meanwhile, the BSP, which is made up of Dalits, took control of one of India's
most populous states. The BSP won 206 seats of the 403-seat assembly in Uttar
Pradesh, surpassing opinion poll forecasts.

The Indian government has banned discrimination against the Dalits, formerly
known as "untouchables," but prejudice still continues. It's unclear what this
will mean for Christians in this state. Pray that God will use this government
to allow more religious freedom.

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