Interior Minister responds to Delhi Archbishop: minorities are not discriminated against

Msgr. Couto called for prayer and fasting ahead of  2019 general elections. In India religious minorities are increasingly targeted by Hindu nationalist radicals. Secretary of the Episcopal Conference: "Prayer is the main road".

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - "India is a country where minorities are safe and no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste or religion". With these terms Rajnath Singh, the Indian Union Interior Minister, responded to the pastoral letter of Msgr. Anil JT Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, who last week invited all parishes of the diocese to recite a prayer and to practice fasting and Eucharistic adoration every Friday until the 2019 elections. To the journalists' questions, the minister replied: "I have not seen the letter, but what I want to say is that India is one of the countries where minorities are safe".

The document of Msgr. Couto is dated May 8, but was released on the 12th, on the eve of the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. In it the archbishop affirms that in the country there is "a turbulent political climate that poses a threat to the democratic principles contained in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation." Then he underlines the value of prayer and the importance of fasting as a redemptive practice.

The prayer would be for the redemption of the Indian political landscape, where religious minorities are increasingly targeted by Hindu nationalist radicals. Not only Christians, but also Muslims suffer attacks. If, on the one hand, Christians are the object of persecution because they are presented as an aggressive minority that wants to convert the population and descend from the ancient colonizers, Muslims discount religious affiliation with Pakistan, the eternal enemy of the Indian Union.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), had expressed appreciation for the letter from the archbishop of Delhi. "It's a good initiative," he said, pointing out later that "prayer is the high road. Praying is always good and we Christians pray for the country, so that political leaders are prudent and enlightened ".

The bishop invites: "We pray for a country guided by pluralism, by the wisdom of government and in which the poor, indigenous peoples and Dalits are considered and respected with equal dignity. We pray that every citizen can live in serenity and with the joy that comes from above ". "Everyone should pray according to their own religion. But it would be nice if all of us Indians prayed together ". Finally, he reaffirms the Christian leadership "does not take sides with any party. We give guiding principles for a policy of justice, peace and harmony. Christians in India love their country ".

(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)