» 09/21/2012, 00.00
Religious intolerance grows in Tamil Nadu, 13 cases in 2012
The denunciation comes from the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Under pressure from Hindu nationalists, a local administrator denies the status as a place of worship to a community hall legally built by a Christian community. Usually, the Tamil Nadu is known as an example of harmony and development among the Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Alarming" growth of religious
intolerance in Tamil Nadu, a state of southern India, generally taken as an
example of development and harmony between the different communities. The
complaint comes from the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), that reports of 13 anti-Christian incidents
the have occurred since the start of 2012. In all the cases, the victims have
been Pentecostal or Protestant communities, the object of discrimination and
persecution of various kinds, perpetrated by Hindu ultranationalist groups
belonging to the umbrella group of Sangh Parivar ("Family of associations"). Another
peculiarity is the almost total silence of political and legal institutions,
which often allow the culprits to remain free.
One of the most egregious cases concerns the Rev. S. Suresh
Rajan, for 12 years at the helm of the Pentecostal Church of Vivekanandapuram.
His community has 300 faithful who gather each Sunday in a thatched hut. A few
months ago, the pastor was able to buy a small piece of land, where he built a
Community Hall. But when he completed the building, the district
collector (local administrator) S. Nagarajan denied permission to use
it as a place of worship. They faithful then appealed, and on June 7 Judge K.
Venkatarajan sided with the Christians, giving the district collector eight weeks to change the status of the Hall. Under pressure
from Hindu radical activists in the area, Nagarajan has continued to deny
permission, and has asked the Christians to appeal to the Tamil Nadu
government. At the moment, the community of Rev. Rajan still does not have a
church in which to celebrate its prayer services.
For Sajan George, President of the GCIC, the gravest aspect
of this whole story is "the obstinate disobedience of a court order,"
that "will only serve to fuel in the Christian community the mistrust of
government and justice".
About 89% of the population of Tamil Nadu are Hindus,
followed by the Christian minority (6.1%) and Muslims (5.6%). Christianity is
widespread especially in the southern districts of the state, which are home to
some of the places symbolic of Christianity in India: St. Thomas Mount
(Chennai) where the martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle allegedly took place;
St. Thomas was the disciple of Jesus who brought Christianity to India; San
Thome Basilica, dedicated to St. Thomas; Our Lady of Good Health of
Vailankanni, known as the "Lourdes of the Orient".
Tamil Nadu, a Pentecostal pastor in prison for baptizing a woman
Hindu extremist Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) lay false charges of forced conversions and denounce the Reverend to the police. Christian leader: “persecution of Christians has become a lawful practice in this state."
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In view of the upcoming state election, Mgr Fernando, Archbishop of Madurai, has called on the community not to vote for those forces, like the Hindu Nationalist Party, that "want to spread ethnic-religious tension".
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The activists of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) accused them of forced conversions. Church demolished, two motorcycles destroyed, a camera and six bikes stolen. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Here is the insecurity in which the Christian minority in secular India live."
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