02/16/2005, 00.00
INDIA
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Fundamentalist plan behind anti-Christian violence, says Bishop

Mumbai (AsiaNews) –- The recent wave of violence against Christians is part "of a plan led by fundamentalist groups", this according to Mgr Percival Fernandez, Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai and Secretary-General of the Bishops' Conference of India.

In last few weeks attacks against Christians of different denominations have escalated throughout the country.

On January 30, followers of Bajarang Dal, one of the most violent Hindu fundamentalist groups, disrupted a Christian prayer meeting in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh,

On February 3, a Hindu holy man threatened to forcibly reconvert Adivasi (tribal people) who had converted to Catholicism from the village of Rajura in the diocese of Amravati, Maharashtra,

Mid-February saw other tragic episodes: on the 11, an evangelical pastor was found dead, killed in cold blood in Karnakata; on the 13 six evangelical theology students were beaten up in Kerala by activists of the  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the armed wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party that has always been hostile to religious minorities; finally, on the 14, Luciano Colussi, a Salesian Father and Vicar General of the diocese of Krishnagar, was arbitrarily detained by the police.

For Bishop Fernadez, "practically all of these incidents of violence against Christians are master-minded by fundamentalist groups".

Conscious that Christianity has already been persecuted in the past, the Bishop added: "we should not think that this is unique in our country alone, sad though it is".

As to whether the protection of Christian minorities has improved after the BJP defeat in the May 2004 elections, Bishop Fernandez said: "I feel that the central government that we have elected has the responsibility to help people live as brothers and sisters in this beautiful land of ours."

Christians, he said, ought to "respect others and live in love and harmony. The more we reflect Christ's message of love and peace so well spelt out in the Gospels, the less will these incidents occur."  (NC)

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