10/02/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Christian Leader: On the day of nonviolence, India betrays the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi

by Nirmala Carvalho
Today the whole world celebrates the day for non-violence, established by the U.N. in honor of the birth of the country's spiritual leader. In India it is a national holiday, but many religious attacks betray the constitutional principles on which the nation was founded. In Karnataka, new cases of anti-Christian violence are worrying. Sajan George: "Gandhi believed in a free India based on religious pluralism".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Today the world celebrates the International Day of Non-violence, established by the United Nations on day of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. For India the recurrence is a national holiday: yet, in reporting to AsiaNews, Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic), noted, "it is a shame that the vision of our father of the nation is blurred by the increasing incidents of religious intolerance against minorities". Gandhi, underlines the Christian leader, "believed in a free India based on religious pluralism".

One of the "exemplary" cases is Karnataka, where cases of violence against Christians are increasing. According to data of the GCIC, since last June to mid-September, the Christian community has suffered at least 21 attacks, compared to four recorded from January to May this year.

The latest occurred a short distance from each other. On 29 September in Tarikere (Chikmagalur district) 25 Hindu extremists interrupted the Sunday service of the Pentecostal Church Gypsy Church. Having beaten the Rev. Hemachandra and his wife, they locked the couple in the building. The attackers denounced the two for forced conversions and proselytism: the police arrived on the spot, took the pastor and his wife to the central police station and forced them to sign a paper that claimed that they would cease from all activity.

On 28 September in Tiptur (Tumkur district), some Hindu fundamentalists set fire to and destroyed the Pentecostal community church Believers Church of India. The police ignored the complaint lodged by the Rev. Aneef. On the same day in Bellur (Mandya district), some 20 Hindu radicals interrupted the prayer service of the Rev. Solomon Ramesh, Pentecostal Pastor of St. Thomas Church, and destroyed Bibles, crosses and musical instruments in the place of worship.

"In this growing religious intolerance - notes Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the Jesuit Centre for human rights, justice and peace Prashant (Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India) - we see an increase in violence against Christians and other minorities of India, which needs to be addressed". "Christians", adds Sajan George, "don't do anything criminal and the right to freedom of religion and conscience are enshrined in the Constitution. These attacks are alarming and dangerous for the development of our nation."

"The Mahatma", the GCIC president recalled, "showed humanity how nonviolence successfully challenged the will of the British Empire. He always fought for the harmony between communities, and it is 'ironic' that he was killed by a religious fanatic". 

 

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