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    » 04/19/2010, 00.00

    INDIA

    Madhya Pradesh: Christian dies fleeing Hindus

    Nirmala Carvalho

    A 25-year-old man drowns in a well after a group of radical Hindus breaks a prayer meeting. The archbishop of Bhopal tells AsiaNews that the State has failed to protect Christians.

    Betul (AsiaNews) – A 25-year-old Christian, Amit Gilbert, drowned in a well trying to flee from the fury of a group of Hindu radicals who had attacked a prayer meeting in Madhya Pradesh, seriously wounding three participants. The attack occurred last Saturday in the village of Saliya, near Betul. According to Abhishek Rajan, a local police official, the body of the man was found in the well after he jumped inside trying to escape from his attackers.

    Mgr Leo Cornelius, metropolitan archbishop of Bhopal, told AsiaNews that “the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry have failed in their duty to protect the minority community. I just spoke to the chief minister. He is always well disposed towards the Christian minority and cordial with the Catholic Church, but he has failed to translate this attitude into protection against fundamentalists.  It is the duty of the State to uphold the law and give people confidence.”

    For the prelate, “the climate of terror and the attacks against the Christian minority are growing by the day. These attacks are well planned and systematically carried out. What is more, extremists have started to use a new method. Some file complaints against local Christian leaders whilst others disrupt Christian assemblies. When Christian leaders go to the police to file their own complaints, they find themselves detained on charges of conversion activities”.

    Many Indian States have in fact adopted anti-conversion laws. Even though they are unconstitutional, they impose stiff sentences on anyone who converts a Hindu to another religion.

    “These laws are open to interpretation and discretionary in their application,” Mgr Cornelius said. “Madhya Pradesh was the first Indian State to adopt a law on religious freedom, which is in fact an anti-conversion in disguise. Yet everyone benefits from the presence of Catholics who provide education and health care to all. Even the children of extremists study with us.”

    As a way to protest against the situation, the archdiocese organised a large demonstration. “Some 2,500 people took part in the event, including eminent Muslim leaders and Communist Party officials. Those who addressed the crowd came to our defence, telling everyone that each Indian citizen has a constitutional right to practice and preach their faith, a right that applies to minorities who must be protected.”

    For Sajan K George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Hindu radicals “have unleashed a reign of terror all over the country. The death of 25-year-old Amit Gilbert, who was a Master of Divinity student, shows how extremists want to wipe out the tiny minority of Indian Christians.  Right now, every Christian celebration triggers their ire. Last Wednesday, two days before Amit’s death, they attacked a gathering of 5,000 Protestants.”

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    See also

    26/07/2005 INDIA
    Hindu extremists slander the Church but send their children to Church-run schools
    False charges of "forced conversions" are levelled at a Catholic priest. For the local bishop, this is a plot by Hindu extremists, backed by the state government that provides the legal instruments. Behind it, there is an attempt by extremists to get free access to high-status Catholic schools.

    10/01/2007 INDIA
    Hindu militants forcibly prevent alleged “mixed marriage”
    Armed with swords and tridents, a group broke into a Marriage Registrar’s office in Madhya Pradesh to prevent marriage between a woman – who they claimed was a Hindu – and a Christian man. The woman says she is animist and has threatened to commit suicide.

    06/05/2006 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: "Social preparation" to counter anti-Christian violence

    This is the view of the chairperson of the state's Christian Forum. The intensified violence against our communities is alarming, the spokesman of the Bishops' Conference told AsiaNews. The anti-conversion law is the tool used by the administration to incriminate and molest us.



    19/01/2016 17:52:00 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: 12 people arrested for forced conversions to Christianity, but none is Christian

    All those detained were taking part in a private dinner to mark a Hindu harvest festival. Police took the accused, including a blind married couple, to a police station. They were released the next day on bail. For the archbishop of Bhopal, “Sangh Parivar activists have taken advantage of” the state’s anti-conversion law, “making false and baseless allegations.”



    21/02/2013 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: Hindu fundamentalists attack Christians even in the privacy of their homes
    In two separate incidents, Pentecostal clergymen are accused of forced conversions. For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), India's constitution guarantees freedom of worship and praying at home does not violate the penal code.



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