New violence against Christians, carried out in view of Christmas, cause concern in the Indian Christian community.
According to information
gathered by Fides, on December 14 a group of about 30 Hindu militants
attacked a group of Catholic faithful in Tikariya, a village just
outside the city of Banswara, in Rajasthan State, hitting the Catholic
priest Stefphan Rawat, women and other Christians.
As reported to Fides
by Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians
(GCIC), as tradition the Catholic were roaming the streets of the
village singing the traditional Christmas "carols" in a mini procession
which started at the end of Mass.
The extremists, armed with sticks and
batons, joined and beat them with violence, in defiance of the freedom
of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
There are other recent acts of unjustified violence, such as what
occurred in early December on a Christian woman in the state of
Chhattisgarh: Samari Kasabi, 55, of the Christian village of Dokawaya,
was killed in a brutal attack that forced other Christians to convert
Hinduism for fear of being murdered. Kasabi was stripped naked, beaten
to death and then burned by her neighbors in a night of terror.
crowd of militants was looking for her son Sukura, 35, and his family,
but could not find them, so they decided to kill Samari. Local police
arrested the head of the village for two days before releasing him
without charge. Previously other family members were kidnapped by the
Naxalites, a group of Indian communist guerrillas, while they were
praying for the sick and the needy in their village. The family members
said that they had been repeatedly persecuted.
Even in the other state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India, in recent
days some Hindu extremists attacked a Protestant church and hit the
faithful with stones during a liturgy. And some sacred statues, like
those of St. Anthony and St. Lawrence within the Catholic Church of Our
Lady of Health in Udupi district, Karnataka state, were desecrated and
destroyed by vandals during the night of 11 December.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) is documenting a series
of incidents and violence against Christians in India, particularly in
the states of Karnataka and Orissa, just as Christmas approaches. For
this reason it calls on the security forces to ensure the protection
necessary because "the small and vulnerable Christian community can pray
in peace and security and celebrate this holy time of Christmas".
In India, Christians are about 2.5% of the population while 80% of the
1.3 billion population are Hindus. Conversion to Christianity is
expressly prohibited by law in five Indian states.
The Indian government
at a federal level, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu
nationalist party, is accused of turning a blind eye on attacks against
religious minorities in the country.