ASIA/INDIA – Catholic leaders: “Politics incites religious hatred, violence is orchestrated”

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New Delhi – “The violence in 13 places in the northern states of India is not random or the work of isolated elements. It is a systematically orchestrated and synchronized work to intimidate the Christian community, especially against small, vulnerable and isolated communities, in the Indian states known for such targeted violence”. This is what Catholic writer and journalist John Dayal, former president of the All India Catholic Union, declares to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the “black day” of October 3, in which 13 attacks against Christian communities were registered. According to Dayal, “the violence puts into practice the threats publicly expressed by elements of extremist groups such as the Sangh Parivar, who demand that the Christian and Muslim communities of India be deprived of their citizenship rights”. Dayal notes: “The situation is worrying because high-level political authorities such as federal and state ministers, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party , the party in the federal government, openly incite violence and teach people to consider farmers, Adivasis , Dalits and religious minorities as enemies of the state”. “This is an alarming situation that threatens the rule of law, democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief”, warns Dayal. A.C. Michael, a Catholic layman, national coordinator of the United Christian Forum and former member of the Delhi Minority Commission, adds: “Politics in India has suffered a general decline. Our politicians speak words that hurt people’s feelings or create division and discrimination. I believe that it is the duty and responsibility of the elected to administer the government of the country, prioritize national harmony and pronounce words that unite instead of creating hatred in society”. AC Michael focuses, in particular on the episode of Roorkee, in Uttarakhand, where about 500 extremists broke into a room where 15 faithful were gathered for Sunday prayer, attacking and wounding Christians, one of whom is in hospital in critical conditions: “This is the result of irresponsible statements by some individuals and political and social groups that incite religious hatred. There are organizations that seem to offer ideological platforms for violence”, he notes. “These people spread unfounded and false propaganda, according to which Christians carry out religious conversions through fraudulent means, accusations that have been repeatedly denied by the courts. I would like to point out that, to date, no court has ever found a Christian guilty for having converted someone by fraudulent means”, concludes Michael.
Christians in India represent 2.3 percent out of about 1.3 billion inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are Hindus.