NEW DELHI: The president of the Catholic Church in India has expressed concern over the rising number of attacks against Christians, and has urged the government to ensure their security.
“Recent incidents in some states (in India) have created anxiety among Christians,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis told media
He and other church leaders met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday to press for greater security for the Christian community.
“The minister assured us that immediate action would be taken to bring the culprits to justice and ensure the safety of the community,” Cleemis said.
Last week, 30 Catholic choir singers were attacked in the Satna district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh by right-wing Hindus who accused them of practicing religious conversion.
Local church leaders accused police of arresting the choir members instead of the culprits. “What happened in Satna isn’t an encouraging sign for minorities,” said Cleemis.
“You arrest people on the basis of a rumor, you ignore arson and assault, and you let the culprits go scot free. This worries us,” he added.
A village church in a Hindu-dominated village of Asroi in Aligarh district. In 2014 Hindu activists stormed into the church and installed Hindu idols on its pulpit aiming to convert it to a Hindu temple.
“We need the government to act immediately to ensure all possible ways of giving confidence to minorities in India,” Cleemis said.
“India belongs to everyone. If something happens to one community, it affects the entire country. We want a united India with diversity intact.”
Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “No such attack on Christians took place in Madhya Pradesh,” BJP spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya told Arab News. “Since this is an election year, such allegations arise to serve certain vested interests.”
Christians were also reportedly attacked on Friday in the BJP-governed western state of Rajasthan, again over accusations of religious conversion, a charge the minority community in India vehemently denies.
Earlier this week, in the Aligarh district of the BJP-governed eastern state of Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu group pledging allegiance to a local BJP parliamentarian warned Christian schools against celebrating Christmas.
“India is increasingly becoming unsafe and hostile to religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims,” Harsh Mander, director of the Center for Equity Studies, told.