07/31/2014, 00.00
INDIA

Madhya Pradesh: government "encourages" radical Hindus to persecute Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
Reported to AsiaNews by Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). In June and July there have been numerous attacks against the minority. In all cases the extremists are using the weapon of the "anti-conversion law" to threaten the faithful and Christian religious leaders.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "In Madhya Pradesh the absolute lack of political will to control the most dangerous elements encourages the Hindu fundamentalists to harass and intimidate the vulnerable Christian community",  Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), denounces to AsiaNews after a series of attacks against the Christian minority in the state.

The latest epsiode occurred on July 27 at Nagda, a small town 55 km from Ujjain, the famous sacred city of Hinduism in Madhya Pradesh. The Sunday service - attended by about 25 people, mostly women - was stormed by about thirty activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal. Accompanied by police armed with guns, they questioned Rev. Rakesh Goyal, asking if he was converting someone to Christianity.

On June 30, a group of fundamentalists disrupted a prayer meeting of an independent church and beat the pastor Chimnan Lal, insulting him for his faith and accusing him of practicing forced conversions. The police arrived only to arrest the Reverend and hold him in prison for eight hours.

On June 14, in Gayatri Nagar, about 15 Hindu extremists attacked Rev. Robin Masih and some members of the Brethren Church, leaving a prayer service. After they burned the Bible.

These radical groups, Sajan George tells AsiaNews, "make false accusations of forced conversion against the Pentecostal pastors, so as to enforce the pernicious anti-conversion law that is in force in the State".

In August 2013, the Madhya Pradesh government approved an amendment to the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1986, which made the law even tougher. The amendment requires priests to provide local authorities with all the details of the person who decides to change their religion at least 30 days before the ceremony, and heavy fines for those who do not respect it.

The government of the Indian state is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ultra-nationalist Hindu party close to fundamentalist groups responsible for violence against minorities. Since last May this formation is also at the helm of the central government of India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

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