03/19/2016, 13.04
INDIA
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India’s Christians ask government for protection during Holy Week

by Nirmala Carvalho

There has been an escalation of violence by Hindu radicals in recent weeks. Churches damaged, pastors beaten and arrested, faithful manhandled. President of Global Council of Indian Christians: "It seems that praying in India has become a crime. Christians are not treated like other citizens".

 

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Given the recent attacks on Christian communities, it is urgent to ensure the safety of the faithful during the Holy Week celebrations: This is the cry for help that is being addressed to the National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) by Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

There is no sign of a stop to the religious violence in the country, with Hindu radicals who have carried out a wave of new attacks in recent days. On February 6th, about 15 men attacked the Pentecostal church of the village of Kachna in the state of Chhattisgarh state, disrupting the function, beating the 65 worshipers, including women, and destroying sacred objects.

Only a week later, on March 12, another violent incident took place in the southeastern state Tamil Nadu. Hindu groups violated the property of the Church of South India (CSI, Anglican) in Kalapatti, damaging the interior of the church and its door,  destroying the altar and the sacred vestments. The place of worship has been located there since 1948 and was recently renovated and expanded with the permission of the court of Madras. Police arrested five people and opened an investigation.

The day before the attack, on March 11, a Pentecostal pastor was arrested with his wife in the southern state of Karnakata, after being beaten by a group of extremists of the Hindu right, perhaps belonging to the Bajrang Dal, a militant youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, Hindu ultranationalists). The pastor, K Keshava, was traveling to go and pray for a non-believer: On arriving at his destination he was ambushed and beaten.

According to Sajan George, this continuing violence "are clear violations of constitutional guarantees. These groups of right-wing Hindu beat innocent citizens, belonging to the Christian minority. In the assault of Karnata, even a woman was arrested for no reason. Is it therefore a crime pray in India? Or are Christians not citizens like all others? These are violations of our human rights".

The Constitution, continued the GCIC president, "guarantees freedom of worship, but last month we have seen too many episodes of religious violence. A few days ago, India denied a visa to a member of the US Commission for Religious Freedom who wanted to discuss the 'deterioration' of conditions in the country".

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