05/01/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Rajasthan: demands for government intervention to defend Christians

In a communiqué released yesterday, India’s main Christian organisations denounce the attack against a Christian missionary in Jaipur and call on the government to intervene immediately and decisively. Respect for the constitution and religious freedom are at stake.

Jaipur (AsiaNews) – Following the brutal attack against a Christian clergyman in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the central government should act forcefully to punish the culprits or acknowledge that the country is in the hands of Hindu fundamentalist who despise the constitution and show day after day that they do not want to respect it. This, in a nutshell, is what India’s main Christian organisations want, among them the All India Catholic Union and the All India Christian Council.

John Dayal, who sent the press release on behalf of the various groups, described the Sunday attack by Hindu fanatics against Rev Walter Massey as traumatising, the more so since it was carried out in front of the Christian missionary’s family and a local TV crew who filmed the event.

Before their stormed Rev Massey’s home, the fanatics from the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had invited a local TV station to send a crew to film their action. Once their deed accomplished, they left undisturbed. The injured clergyman (see photo) was eventually taken to a hospital.

Police, who arrived after the attackers had left, said they had no suspects. According to Mr Dayal, they even refused to take down the missionary’s statement for a first information report. Only as a result of the intervention of a number of Christian groups did they agree to register one and launch an investigation. Still, they failed to register the names of the fundamentalist group ostensibly involved in the attack in spite of the video evidence showing the “attackers claiming that they belonged to the VHP.”

In response to the situation Christian groups decided to organise a civil society people’s investigation which will involve a proper inquiry into the incident.

Christians in Jaipur will also stage a peaceful demonstration to protest against the repeated and unpunished attacks that their co-religionists have to endure—they will also demand action from the government to uphold their constitutionally-guaranteed right to religious freedom.

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