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Indian president concerned over attacks on Christians

A delegation of Christian leaders briefed Droupadi Murmu on rising persecution of Christians, their priests, and institutions
Christian delegates called upon Indian President Droupadi Murmu (fourth from left) in New Delhi on April 13 to seek and end to the rising persecution of Christians, their priests, and institutions

Christian delegates called upon Indian President Droupadi Murmu (fourth from left) in New Delhi on April 13 to seek and end to the rising persecution of Christians, their priests, and institutions. (Photo supplied) 

Published: April 14, 2023 11:08 AM GMT
Updated: April 14, 2023 11:53 AM GMT

Indian President Droupadi Murmu has expressed concern over reports of increasing persecution of Christians and assured community leaders of taking action as the highest Constitutional authority in the country.

Murmu received a delegation of Christian leaders at Rashtrapati Bhawan, her official residence, in New Delhi on April 13. Led by Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto of Delhi, it comprised Methodist Bishop Subodh Mondal, Protestant Bishop Paul Swarup of the Church of North India, and Christian activists Michael Williams and Tehmina Arora.

During the half-an-hour meeting, the president was briefed about the steep increase in the incidents of violence against Christians, especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Murmu said she had read reports about the targeting of Christians, however, she believed that these violent attacks were been perpetrated by only a handful of people and stressed that the secular fabric of the nation was still vibrant.

The United Christian Forum (UCF), a group that monitors atrocities against Christians in India, has recorded 598 violent incidents against Christians in 2022 from 21 states among the 28 states and 8 federally ruled territories in the country, said the memorandum presented to the president. 

In the first three months of 2023, UCF has reported 187 verified incidents of faith-based violence against Christians.

The incidents of violence include intimidation, mob violence, brutal assault, vandalism of sacred places of worship, sexual violence, closure of churches, social ostracization, denial of burial for the departed, and false reports under anti-conversion laws.

The states of particular concern are Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Jharkhand.

The memorandum highlighted the recent series of attacks in the tribal-dominated southern region of Bastar in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, against tribal Christians over allegations of religious conversions.

The memorandum urged the federal and state governments to protect the Constitutional rights of the Christian community, its freedom to practice and propagate the faith, and to live with dignity and without threat to lives and property.

It further called to strengthen human rights monitoring mechanisms and set up national and state redressal mechanisms to address targeted violence against minorities.

The delegations also sought speedy closure of false cases against Christians, reconstruction of illegally demolished churches across the country, strict action against vigilante mobs, and compensation for individuals and institutions who are falsely targeted for their religious identity.

Murmu gave a patient hearing to the delegation and applauded the Christian community’s service in the area of healthcare and education.

She fondly recalled her time volunteering with nuns in her home state of Odisha in eastern India and also remembered the tragic loss of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary who was brutally murdered along with his two young sons in 1999.

The president said the Staines were her neighbors and expressed regret in her inability at the time to avert the tragic loss.

Christian leaders said they decided to meet the president during a peaceful protest of some 22,000 Christians in New Delhi on Feb. 19.

The protest sought government intervention to ensure justice and peace for Christian the community across the country.

Christians, who make up 2.3 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population, are facing increased persecution from Hindu nationalist groups ever since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party assumed power in 2014.

India’s Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation filed by Christian leaders and organizations seeking directions to the federal and state governments to end the rising persecution of Christians, their priests, and institutions.

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1 Comments on this Story
CHHOTEBHAI
A timely initiative it all adds up. Could have had more lay leaders in the delegation
Asian Bishops
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