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Hindu groups place saffron flags on 4 Indian churches

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked people to hoist saffron flags ahead of the consecration of Lord Ram temple
Hindu activists placing a saffron flag on top of a church of the Protestant Shalom Church in Jhabua district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Jan. 21.

Hindu activists placing a saffron flag on top of a church of the Protestant Shalom Church in Jhabua district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Jan. 21. (Photo supplied)

Published: January 22, 2024 11:37 AM GMT
Updated: January 22, 2024 12:05 PM GMT

Christians in a central Indian state have demanded action against Hindu activists who climbed on the top of crosses in four churches and placed their flags as thousands joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open a contentious temple. 

Right-wing Hindu activists climbed on top of churches and placed their saffron flags on Jan. 21 in Madhya Pradesh's Jhabua district, inhabited predominantly by tribal communities.

The state, a hotbed of anti-Christian violence, is run by Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Hindu activists shouted Jai Shree Ram (hail Lord Ram) as they targeted three churches of the Protestant Shalom Church and a church managed by the Church of South India.

They threatened the Church people who opposed their sacrilegious act.

“We informed the police, but they refused to register our complaint,” said Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Shalom Church.

“The police are forcing us to reach a compromise,” Muniya told UCA News.

The flag-placing should be seen as part of the festivities linked to the Jan. 22 opening of the Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh state's Ayodhya town, considered the birthplace of Ram.

The controversial temple is perceived as the Hindu triumph over foreign religions as it was erected after the demolition of a 16th-century mosque built by Muslim invader Babar.

Modi has asked people to decorate their houses and light oil lamps as part of the celebrations.

Opposition parties have accused Modi of exploiting religious sentiments ahead of the May polls where he is seeking a third consecutive term.

Bishop Muniya said they plan "to approach the higher-ups in the police department. In case we do not get a favorable reply we will file a case in the court.”

“We have video-recorded their defiling acts,” the prelate claimed.

A police official on condition of anonymity told UCA News that the “saffron flags from three churches have been removed.”

The remaining one will be removed soon, he said but refused to divulge details.

Father Rockey Shah, public relations officer of the Jhabua Catholic diocese, demanded action against the miscreants.

A few people are trying “to destroy communal harmony and peace in the country,” he said.

Hindu groups in the district have been actively campaigning to convert indigenous Christians to the Hindu religion under the Ghar Vapasi (homecoming) campaign.

Madhya Pradesh is among the 11 states in the country that have a stringent ant-conversion law in force.

Christians make up a mere 0.29 percent of more than 72 million people in the central state and the majority of them are Hindus.

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Will Cardinal Gracias and his fellow Christmas Luncheon invitees to the Prime Minister's house now ask their "gracious " host to take strict action against these vandals?
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