UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

India

Politics suspected in burning of Marian statue in India

Catholic leaders believe attack in Madhya Pradesh could be linked to forthcoming election

Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Politics suspected in burning of Marian statue in India

The Marian statue of St. Joseph parish in Jhabua Diocese in Madhya Pradesh was found damaged by fire on Feb. 3. Church leaders suspect the attack was politically motivated as India's general election approaches. (Photo supplied)

Share this article :
A Marian statue was set on fire in India’s Madhya Pradesh state in the latest attack against Christians amid reports that more than 1,000 such attacks have occurred in the past year.

Church leaders suspect the attack could have political undertones ahead of the national election due to take place in two months.

Catholics of St. Joseph parish in Ishgar village of Jhabua Diocese found the partially burned statue of Mother Mary in the grotto on Feb. 3, said diocesan spokesman Father Rockey Shah.

The 70-year-old parish has about 4,000 Catholics and has “never before reported such hostility” from the majority Hindus in the area, he told ucanews.com.

Church leaders believe the attack is an attempt to create a political advantage for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when it seeks re-election after its term to lead the New Delhi government ends in May.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP lost power to the rival Indian National Congress in December. The attack could be part of an attempt to project the Congress as inefficient and garner Christian votes, Christian leaders like Father Shah suspect.

State police are investigating the case, Father Shah said.

The attack happened as Persecution Relief, an ecumenical forum monitoring violence on Christians, released its annual report claiming that Indian Christians suffered 1,059 incidents of persecution in 2018, up from 736 incidents in 2017.

“The fringe elements becoming bolder and bolder and taking center stage in some areas is a cause of worry,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Indian bishops’ conference, wrote in his foreword to the report.

Since the BJP came to power in 2014, Hindu groups have stepped up their action to achieve their goal of making India a Hindu theocratic nation, leading to increased attacks on Christians and Muslims.

“Persecution comes in different forms today: disruption of peaceful gatherings for prayers, physical attacks against innocent worshippers, use of laws to intimidate and harass institutions and persons,” Bishop Mascarenhas said in his note.

Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief, told ucanews.com that 2018 witnessed a 118 percent rise in incidents such as threats, harassment and intimidation compared to 2017.

Uttar Pradesh state, where Hindu guru Yogi Adityanath become chief minister two years ago, was the worst place for anti-Christian attacks with 129 reported incidents.

Other blackspots were Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, which together accounted for 59 percent of attacks reported in 2018.

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution