12/28/2006, 00.00
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Indian Christians suffer persecution on Christmas day

The worst episodes of anti-Christian violence occurred in Punjab and Chhatisgarh, where Hindu nationalist groups have threatened those who celebrate the birth of Christ.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – India’s Christian minority “has been the object of various attacks on Christmas eve and on Christmas day itself” by fanatical Hindu nationalists “who have prepared a hate campaign for the purpose of destroying it,” this according to the All India Christian Council, an organisation representing all of the country’s Christian denominations.

Arun Pannalal, general secretary of the Chhatisgarh Christian Forum, said that “on Christmas eve some 50 vehicles carrying Hindu nationalists drove through the streets of Raipur, the capital of this central Indian state, warning people that they would close down any form of Christmas celebration”.

Not satisfied with their action, “they beat up a teacher whom they accused of handing out bibles in school. Despite the fact that the accusations were false, the woman was arrested by the police on charges of forced conversions.”

Members of a fringe Hindu group, Dharma Sena, attacked a Christian clergyman on the same pretext because he was giving some sweets to children on Christmas day. He, too, is now in prison.

In Punjab, local police arrested a pastor from the Good Shepherd Community Churches, releasing him after warning him of serious consequences “if he celebrated Christmas speaking about Christ.”

Two other Protestant leaders received the same treatment. They were arrested on December 23 and released the next day after they were warned “not to preach the Gospel anymore”.

For the All India Christian Council, these “are but a few examples because it is impossible to report every episode of violence and persecution that have taken place in this period”.


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