India

Ex-civil servants urge Modi to end attacks on Christians

Attackers one way or the other are connected to the prime minister’s pro-Hindu party, they say

Bijay Kumar Minj

Updated: March 06, 2023 10:45 AM GMT

Christians hold a candle light vigil against rising hate crimes against them on Jan. 8 in New Delhi (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

A group of top former civil servants in India has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the rising hatred and violence against Christian minorities in the country.

In a March 4 letter, signed by 93 former civil servants under the banner of the Constitutional Conduct Group, they urged Modi from the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party to reassure the Christian community of equal and unbiased treatment before the law. 

It is imperative that you, Prime Minister, give them this reassurance, they insisted in the open letter.

According to the United Christian Forum (UCF), a New Delhi-based inter-denominational Christian organization that keeps a tab on atrocities against Christians in the country, the nation reported 598 incidents of violence against Christians in 21 states in 2022. The number stood at 279 in 2020 and 505 in 2021, UCF said in a report.

The attacks, including social boycotts, vandalism of churches and the arrest of Christian leaders mainly took place in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, and Gujarat, all ruled by Modi's party, and in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra, where his right-wing Hindu party has a strong presence. Most of these leading Indian states have enacted controversial anti-conversion laws which Hindu fringe elements use to target Christians and their prayer meetings.

We are deeply perturbed by the continued harassment, through speech and criminal actions, of minority groups in the country by persons associated with your government, your party, organizations connected to it, and by mischief makers from amongst the public, the letter said. 

The letter said that we are concerned about hate crimes and speeches against all minorities and the steadily increasing ugly words and actions against a small religious minority, the Christians.

Our constitution clearly spells out that all citizens, irrespective of religion, are equal and have equal rights, but we are compelled to protest to you against the increasing incidents of outright discrimination against Christians occurring in recent times, it said.

Christians are accused of forcible conversion, but their total strength is less than 2.4 percent of India's 1.3 billion population. The number has remained more or less the same since the 1951 census, the letter observed.

Yet, in the minds of some, this minuscule number poses a threat to the 80 percent of the population that is Hindu, the former civil servants, some of whom earlier served as ambassadors to European nations, noted.

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