06/06/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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In Karnataka, it is more peaceful for Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
For Sajan George, head of the Global Council of Indian Christians, the Christian community can now feel safe. However, the newly elected state government led by the Congress Party must bring to justice Hindu extremists responsible for eight years of religious persecution.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) is calling on the new government of Karnataka led by the Indian National Congress to protect the small Christian community and other religious minorities, after being targeted for years by Hindu extremists. "The new government should provide justice to Christians who have been the victims of a campaign of hatred and violence since 2008," said GCIC president Sajan George.

In 2008, when anti-Christian pogroms broke out in Orissa, Karnataka also became the scene of attacks against local Christian churches and communities. For many years, the state was one of the most "dangerous" places for India's Christian minority. A GCIC report found that last year Karnataka had the highest number of rapes, 41 out of 135, in all of India.

The election in May of Siddaramaiah, the local leader of the Indian National Congress (a secular party headed by Sonia Gandhi), as the new chief minister of Karnataka has given Christians new hope after eight years of persecution under the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), a Hindu nationalist party.

"After being hounded on false accusations of proselytising in secular India, the Christian community of Karnataka can now pray without fear", the GCIC president said.

However, the new government must take concrete steps to bring to justice organisations and leaders responsible for violence. In view of this, George wants the government to make an official apology to the Christian minority for the injustice it suffered in the past eight years.

"Even if it is not directly responsible," George explained, "the machinery of government has for years been an accomplice of Hindu extremists, denying Christians the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution."

For Sajan George, the new chief minister must also move away from the Somsekhara Commission's "specious and false" report on the violence of recent years, which cleared Hindu movements from responsibility for attacks on churches in Karnataka in 2008.

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