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Protesters demand end to violence against Christians in India

Group rallies in New Delhi to demand that PM Modi fulfills campaign promises

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Updated: August 30, 2015 11:56 PM GMT
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Protesters demand end to violence against Christians in India
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Some 7,000 Christians of different denominations gathered in the national capital New Delhi to protest against the increasing violence and hate campaigns against the community across India.

Christians, including nuns and priests, from Delhi and the neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh took part in the Aug. 30 protest near parliament.

Protesters demanded that the federal government issue instructions to state governments to obey the national policy of protecting religious and ethnic minorities from violence.

Christian leaders addressing the gathering said early this year Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a national seminar of Christians that his government will not tolerate violence against any religion.

"But ground realities have not changed. Christians are still being targeted in different states," Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, which supported the protest, told ucanews.com.

Howell expressed concern over the lack of action of the police and administration in bringing justice to the Christian community in different cases of persecution.

The rape of two Catholic nuns this year has heightened apprehension in the Christian community. 

A Catholic nun in Raipur in western India was raped in June. The culprits have not been arrested yet. In another case, a 70-year-old nun was raped in West Bengal in eastern India in March, leading to outrage among Christians across India.

A report compiled by human rights activists in June claimed that the incidents of persecution of minority communities in the country increased after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people's party) government took over last year.

The government has been accused by rights activists of trying to turn the country into a Hindu nation with the backing of the hardline Hindu-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.

According to the report, there were more than 200 cases of persecution against Christians, more than 170 against Muslims and more than 230 reported incidents of hate speech leveled against the two communities in the last year nationwide.

According to partial list by the Evangelical Fellowship of India's Religious Liberty Commission, incidents of persecution against Christians this year have already crossed the 100 mark. 

Protesters noted that within the past week, at least five incidents have been reported in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

They expressed concern that Christians praying even in their own homes are no longer safe as “they are being targeted by right-wing extremists apparently drunk on political power and support.” 

They also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfill his promises on protecting minority religions.

“We pray for an India that has religious freedom and space for people of all faiths and ideology,” Howell said. 

Christians form 2.3 percent of India's 1.25 billion population.

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