05/04/2012, 00.00
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Thousands of Christians dropped from voters' rolls in Madhya Pradesh

For Isai Mahasangh, an ecumenical Christian forum, the ultranationalist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to favour its candidates in state and federal elections scheduled for 2013 and 2014 respectively. The names of some 10,000 Christians have disappeared from each voters' lists in Jabalpur, Gwalior, Bhopal and Indore. For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, this is disgraceful.

Bhopal (AsiaNews) - Isai Mahasangh, an ecumenical Christian forum, has alleged that the names of many Christian voters have been dropped from voters' lists to favour candidates running under the banner of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ultranationalist Hindu party that is currently in power the state of Madhya Pradesh. For this reason, it has filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India, demanding a probe.

According to Isai Mahasangh, the problem of vanishing names is greatest in areas with large numbers of Christians, like the cities of Jabalpur, Gwalior, Bhopal and Indore, where someone cancelled about 10,000 names from the local voters' lists.

The case came to light first in Bhopal. "When we checked the voters' list, the names of many Christians were missing," Richard James, president of the local Isai Mahasangh chapter, told AsiaNews.

But this is nothing new. "My own parents have been residents of Bhopal since 1985 and have their Voters Identification Card. They voted in previous elections but were not permitted to vote in 2008 as their names were deleted," James explained.

For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), this kind of anti-Christian discrimination is disgraceful. "It is not enough that we are victims of attacks from ultra-nationalist groups, now public officials are involved in new forms of discrimination."

State elections are scheduled in Madhya Pradesh next year. Local voters will be called to the polls for Union (federal) elections in 2014.

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