A copy of the order purportedly demanding the profiling of Christians. Madhya Pradesh government and police deny they issued it
The Madhya Pradesh government denies it issued an order seeking detailed information about Christians, but a Catholic prelate says the matter is still worrying.
The Church in the central Indian state had voiced alarm over the order that purportedly sought community profiling of Christians.
Church leaders such as Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said such profiling soon after the national census would be unwarranted and a matter of serious concern.
India completed its 10-yearly census on March 1.
However, on March 22, a circular purportedly issued by the senior superintendent of police in Bhopal asked police stations to compile information about Christians.
The order wanted details on Christians’ financial status, source of foreign funds, political leanings and criminal records.
It also asked for total community populations, the number of Protestants and Catholics, the number of existing churches and those under construction, as well as the number of Christian schools and Christian teachers.
However, Director General of Police S.K. Rout said he didn’t know anything about the circular until Wednesday when a Christian delegation brought it to his notice.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan yesterday called for a report on the circular after also expressing ignorance of it.
Chouhan heads the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) that has ruled the state since 2003.
Archbishop Cornelio, who heads the Catholic Church in the state, has demanded a thorough probe into the circular. “Such orders are issued only by a dictatorial government, not a democratic one,” the prelate said today.
“We want the government to reveal the people behind it if it had not backed the order. Only then will the Christian community have faith in the government,” he added.
The order came to light after a plain clothes policeman threatened to arrest Father Francis Scaria, parish priest of Ashta in Bhopal archdiocese, after the priest refused to divulge details of his parishioners.
Father Scaria said he suspected a sinister motive, especially since the latest census already collected details on Christians and their households.
It is a very serious issue for Christians, state Catholic Church spokesperson Father Anand Muttungal said today.
He said his office has alerted all bishops in the state not to disclose any information unless such demands are made through proper channels and with sufficient reasons.
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