12/19/2017, 17.56
INDIA
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Uttar Pradesh: Hindus want Christmas banned in Catholic schools, claim it lures Hindu students to Christianity

The Hindu Jagran Manch is a far-right nationalist group linked to chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Young Catholics are reluctant to sing Christmas carols outdoors after the attack on seminarians and priests in Madhya Pradesh.

Lucknow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Hindu nationalist, group, the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM), has warned Hindus not to celebrate Christmas in Catholic schools and not give gifts like toys because this can lure children to Christianity.

The HJM is a far-right Hindu nationalist group affiliated with the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), a youth nationalist brigade created in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, a guru known for his criticism of Indian Christians and Mother Teresa.

The group says it is especially concerned about Catholic schools in Aligarh, the state’s third largest city.

According to media report, the HJM suspects that Christmas celebration in schools with many Hindu students is a step “towards forced conversions”. In view of this, it has said that it would stage protests outside the schools that do not heed its warning.

Sonu Savita, who heads the local HJM chapter, claims that Hindu students studying in Christian schools are "being asked to bring toys, gifts and celebrate Christmas". He claims that "this was an easy way to lure them to Christianity".

Conversely, S N Singh, director of Aligarh's Ingraham Institute, said, "No school forces any student to celebrate any particular festival."

In his view, the HJM's demand is unprecedented and "strange", noting that if they get any more warnings from the HJM, they would go to the local administration and ask for police protection during the Christmas period.

For Osmand Charles, a prominent Christian, the HJM statement “has come as a shock for Christians in Aligarh. There is fear in the community,” which is “spreading insecurity among minorities.”

The latter stems from the practice of ghar wapsi, literally “back to home”, by right-wing Hindu groups, by which the latter try to “re-convert” non-Hindus to Hinduism.

"We are shocked after the incident in Satna where a priest was arrested, a carol singing group was detained and their car was burnt. Now, our boys are also hesitant to go out for carol singing," Charles said.

Hindu nationalists and the chief minister are not new to anti-Christian intimidation. In 2014, Adityanath warned not to celebrate the birth of Christ outside of churches.

In April of this year, HYV members broke into a church in Dadhauli, Maharajganj district, and interrupted the ongoing religious function.

About 150 people were in the place of worship, including 10 American tourists. All the Christians, including Rev Yuhanna Adam, were later arrested by police on charges of forced conversions to Christianity.

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