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Prelate demands profiling probe

Only a full investigation by a federal agency will reveal details, says archbishop

ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
India

April 19, 2011

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A Catholic archbishop in Madhya Pradesh wants India’s top investigating agency to look into a circular that supposedly sought community profiling of Christians in the central Indian state. “We need a thorough probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the circumstances that led the state police department to issue the circular,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio said as he got ready for a press conference in Bhopal, the state capital. The March 22 circular asked heads of police stations in the state to gather details of Christians, their assets and sources of income. The state government and top police officials have disowned the order and asked a senior police official to investigate how such an order was issued. However, Archbishop Cornelio says the Church has no faith in the government probe. “How can we expect justice from the same police department that acted under the influence of some outside force and kept even its own director general in the dark?” he asked. He also said Christians in the state believe the government is backing some fringe groups opposed to Christians. The archbishop refused to name anyone but said only an investigation by a federal agency would reveal such details. He said Christians in Madhya Pradesh have faced a series of attacks after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people’s party) came to power in December 2003. Police have registered cases against the victims rather than the attackers, he added. Archbishop Leo Cornelio also regretted that Christians are forced to seek police protection during their festivals and feasts such as the Holy Week services. “The government will have to bring to justice the culprits behind the circular to restore Christians’ faith,” in the administration, he added. Christians are a tiny minority in the state, forming less than one percent of the Madhya Pradesh's 60 million people, 91 percent of whom are Hindus.

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