05/13/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Madhya Pradesh: Hindu radicals attack three churches

by Nirmala Carvalho
The incidents occurred last night in Indore. The actions were carried out against opposition leader Sonia Gandhi who was supposed to inaugurate a new orphanage run by missionaries. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, “religious freedom is on a downward spiral for Christians”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Last night, Hindu radicals attacked three churches in Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s largest city. The extremists threw stones, destroyed crosses, vandalised various items and attempted to set fire to one of the places of worship. However, police intervened before they could carry out their plans.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), strongly condemned the attacks, which took place a few hours before Sonia Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress Party, inaugurated a missionary-run orphanage.

The Sanskritik Jagran Manch, a local right-wing Hindu organisation, has come under suspicion for what happened after it threatened "direct action" against Gandhi yesterday if she actually opened the facility.

The orphanage is located in a building previously owned by a private organisation. District authorities took it over and gave it to missionaries to turn into an orphanage.

One of the places of worship attacked is St Paul’s Anglican Church. Its priest, Rev Ramesh Chandekar said that militants damaged and destroyed a number of items, including a crucifix, holy vessels and the microphone.

The attackers also tried to set fire to a second Protestant church, throwing burning rags inside. Immediately alerted, police acted quickly and put out the flames before they could spread.

Extremists also threw stones at a third (Protestant) church, breaking glass panels and windows.

Attacks on churches in Madhya Pradesh, a state run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reflect the situation of the state’s tiny Christian community, whose “religious freedom is on a downward spiral”.

In view of  the findings presented in the chapter dedicated to India in the 2015 Report on Religious Freedom in the World, issued by the US Commission on religious freedom, the GCIC president called on "The BJP government to keep its most extremists elements under control, and act swiftly to stop them by enforcing the Indian Penal Code as a deterrent and as a warning to radical groups, who attack without provocation the Christian minority.”

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