Delhi archbishop calls for justice after new attacks on Christians

Vandalism of church buses in Haryana latest case of violence
The archbishop of New Delhi has urged authorities to take more effective measures in combating religiously motivated violence in the wake of an attack on a Christian church in the north Indian state of Haryana.

Vandals damaged two school buses parked in the compound of St. Francis Xavier Church in Rohtak district on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Archbishop Anil J. Couto expressed concern over this attack and other incidents.

“Reports of other attacks on Christian pastors and prayer groups are very disturbing and we request local authorities take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation,” the statement read.

He was referring to an attack on a group of pastors belonging to the Pentecostal Church in Sonepat district of the same state last year.

The prelate also quoted media reports alleging that Sangh Parivar groups (family of Hindu nationalist organizations) are collecting details of persons who converted to Islam and Christianity in western Uttar Pradesh and plan to carry out shuddhikaran – attempts to re-convert them to Hinduism.

“This move by fundamentalist groups is a grave assault on the fundamental rights of individuals and peoples’ groups,” Archbishop Couto said.

Many incidents of Christian persecution have been reported across India with at least seven Christians killed and 4,000 targeted in anti-Christian violence in the country in 2013, he noted.

John Dayal, member of the Indian government’s National Integration Council, told that there has been a sharp rise in hate campaigns against Christians by political organizations.

“This threat of purging Christians from villages extends from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to now Uttar Pradesh, and to the borders of the national capital of New Delhi,” he said.

Dayal said the threats from Sangh Parivar groups were heard in a big way during the early years (from 1999-2004) of the National Democratic Alliance government led by pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party), especially in the tribal areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

“The Sangh Parivar has always nurtured a deep hostility against the Christian community because of its position on the emancipation of Dalits and its empowerment of the marginalized including tribals,” Dayal said.

“That is why it makes allegations against Christians about conversions and then attacks churches, priests, nuns and other landless peasantry and the poor,” he said.

Dayal said the ideologues of the Sangh Parivar have nurtured hostility towards religious minorities.

“The sangh wants India to be a Hindu nation-state with minorities taking second grade status.”

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He urged the Indian government to send out strong signals that the rule of law would be enforced, and religious minorities and their freedom of faith would be fully protected.

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