Christians in Madhya Pradesh launched a statewide tour today to shore-up unity in the face of a growing number of communal attacks. An ecumenical group led by Father Anand Muttungal, the Catholic church’s state spokesperson, will visit headquarters of each of the 50 districts of the central Indian state. The month-long tour, called Sadbhavana Yatra (Harmony rally), set off from the state capital Bhopal early this morning. “Unless we strengthen ourselves and stand united for our rights no one will come to help us,” Father Muttungal said. The group will interact with leaders and faithful of all denominations to forge strong bonds of love and brotherhood, he said. Christians in Madhya Pradesh have suffered a series of violent attacks since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in December 2003. The latest provocation was the government’s community profiling of Christians in the state. The government treated us like “criminals” in the profiling issue, said the priest. They overlook Christian contributions in education and health and services to the poor, he said. “Past experiences have taught us to be vigilant and united to face any challenge that might come on our way," the priest said. The Christian group comprising five members of Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh (great confederation of Madhya Pradesh Christians), an ecumenical forum, has been working to unite all the denominations under one umbrella. The team also will take up issues plaguing the community such as poverty, unemployment, school admissions and ecological concerns. The team is scheduled to conclude the trip on June 13 in Bhopal.