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".