Easter plight of India’s Christians: Masses interrupted, pastors arrested, allegations of forced conversions

Bishops, activists and ordinary people complain about incidents of violence and intimidation across the country. Despite constitutional guarantees, the Christian minority is being persecuted. The threat on Palm Sunday: "If you want to pray, you must have official permission."

Apr 12, 2017

NEW DELHI: Incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment against Christians in India, a discriminated minority oppressed by the majority Hindus. Even on Palm Sunday and Holy Week before Easter. As reflected in the stories of what happened throughout the national territory, pastors and believers arrested, prayer meetings suppressed, masses interrupted, arrests on false accusations of proselytism, tribals forced to "return home", that is to Hinduism. Bishops, activists and ordinary people said pointing out that India is a secular and democratic country only on paper (constitutional), and over the years has become increasingly prey to the Hindu nationalists, led by the central government (BJP Bharatiya Janata Party) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On April 7, the radical nationalist youth brigade Hindu Yuva Vahini, created in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath, the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, raided a Dadhauli church in Maharajganj district (Uttar Pradesh), and interrupted the church service. There were about 150 faithful in the church at that time, including 10 American tourists. All Christians, including the pastor Yuhanna Adam, were arrested by police on charges of forced conversions to Christianity. Msgr. Thomas Thuruthimattam, bishop of Gorakhpur, complains: "It was a real indirect attack on religious freedom. These indirect threats are against the principles established in the Constitution, against people who are represented in the Constitution itself. "

Witnesses say that the nationalists insulted, intimidated and provoked Christians, although police established the falsity of the disputed charges. The pastor Adam also reports that young people entered the church with an excuse: "They arrived early in the morning, asking to visit the facility for its historical value. How could we stop them? The church is open to all and everyone is welcome at any time. Later, as soon as the Mass began, the group with saffron bandanas [typical of nationalists headgear, ed] came back with police. The police immediately blocked the function and asked everyone to leave the building. "

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), criticizes the behavior of the police: “India is a Secular Democratic Republic with Constitutional Guarantees, no illegalities were being done at the Church event, yet the police stopped Worship services under the baseless charges of conversion activities. GCIC fears the increasing insecurity and targeting of the vulnerable Christian minority.”

The Christian leaders also condemned the “shameful act of targeting the tourists for attending worship is denounced and condemned by GCIC. Moreover, it repeats the same old stereotype, of missionaries being out to ‘convert’ the gullible masses.It is a very common sight to see western tourists in saffron robes attend all hues of Hindu festivals in India, very often they are also seen distributing copies of Hindu texts and books at various places, but the police neither stop them or arrest them, But when the western tourists attend Worship, they are detained and harassed. This is a grave human right violation”.--Asia News

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