An Indian bishop has asked religious leaders to come together to foster peace amid increasing religion-based violence, especially against religious minorities and weaker groups. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India
, was speaking at an Oct. 27 interreligious gathering in New Delhi marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Sikh religious leader and social worker Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718). The Sikh, noted for his service on the battlefield, was known for helping all wounded even if they were fighting Sikhs, the bishop said. Presenting Bhai Kanhaiya as a true follower of his religion, the bishop said hatred cannot be part of any religion. "Spiritual heads and guides representing different religions and men and women should come together to lead the nation toward peace and harmony," Bishop Mascarenhas told a gathering that included representatives of Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Muslims. He was speaking on the theme "Refreshing humanitarian action: Role of interfaith organizations in changing humanitarian landscape." The event was jointly organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee
, Centre for Advanced Studies in International Humanitarian Law and the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law
. Bishop Mascarenhas warned people to beware of those sowing hatred. He said the world required "healers" who would work for peace and harmony. "We have had enough of hatred, division and injury," he said. Government records, presented in parliament on Feb. 6, showed increased sectarian violence in India. In 2017, 111 people were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 sectarian communal clashes. In comparison, in 2016, 86 were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents. In 2015, at least 95 people were killed in 751 incidents. Amnesty International's website records more than 200 hate crimes committed against vulnerable groups such as religious and ethnic minorities, socially poor Dalits and transgender people among others. Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India
, said the data "is just a snapshot" as many incidents go unreported in the media.