Indian Christians demonstrate outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral following recent attacks on churches in New Delhi on Feb. 5, 2015. In response to ongoing acts of persecution, Christians from various denominations are planning to conduct nationwide protests on Oct.1. (Photo by AFP)
Christians from various denominations in India are planning a mass movement to protest what they say is the persecution faced by the community.
They want action taken against "communal forces" that create an atmosphere of fear among the minority community.
The All India Christian Minority Front (AICMF) has called for a nationwide protest on Oct. 1. The lay organization, which was formed in 2000, to raise issues related to Christians, has members from all denominations.
"Christian organizations at national and local level are coming together to raise a voice against persecution and discrimination," Philip Christy, AICMF president, told ucanews.com.
Christy said that the protest would happen simultaneously across all 29 states of the country.
AICMF, along with other Christian organizations, have long been protesting about issues concerning the community at the local level but "nothing much has been done so it is time to make our voice heard," he said.
He said the situation has worsened since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government took power in 2014.
"Some communal forces attached to the party are creating an atmosphere of fear among Christians by attacking them and their places of worship," Christy said. "They accuse us of wanting to convert [people]."
According to the Christian Persecution Report, at least five Christians were killed and around 5,000 people experienced persecution in India during 2014.
The report also stated that about 300 clergymen and Christian leaders were targeted in incidents of violence across the country during the same year. Also, the report claimed that roughly 273,000 religious minorities had been re-converted to Hinduism in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, in a campaign aimed at claiming back Hindus who became Christians and Muslims.
"There are incidents of violence against Christians happening all over," Samuel Jaikumar of the National Council of Churches in India told ucanews.com.
"Just because it is not happening at a prominent place or not being reported in the media does not mean it is not taking place."
Jaikumar said that Christians, especially from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, are targeted.
The AICMF, via their Facebook account, said, "We are not worried about what will happen to us … we worry for the future of our children and our community."
Christy said that the government is not doing enough to protect the minority community and its places of worship.
"The government must reserve positions for the community in government and educational institutions," he said. "Also, Christians should get a subsidy for their travel to the holy land of Israel."
The AICMF president said that they are trying to mobilize as many Christians as possible and would also get in touch with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the Church of North India for their support.