“It has been a painful four years for the Christian community, but 2017 and first four months of 2018 has been most traumatic” ~ Wada Na Todo Abhiyan
In a 130 page report released by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan titled as Citizens’ Report on four years of the NDA Government 2014-2018, precisely outlines the violence against the Christians in India in one of its sub reports. The report released on 22nd May at Press Club in which the promises made by NDA government and the reality on the ground was evaluated.
As per data collected by Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, 351 cases of violence were documented in 2017. The commission documents cases of persecutions and runs a national helpline in conjunction with the United Christian Forum and the Alliance. Since the compilation based on voluntary reporting and civil society investigation. The commission fears that many cases may go unreported. The report also cites that on an average 250 incidents have been recorded and verified each year.
Another report published by Open Door World Watch List, which documents persecutions of Christian worldwide ranked India at 11th rank, where Christians face the worst persecution for practicing their faith. Four years ago in the same report, India was at a 31st position in the list.
Wada No Todo report in its further analysis breaks the report into state wise category. The report says, “An analysis of just the 2017 data shows Tamil Nadu emerge as the most hostile state where Christian are concerned, with 52 cases. Uttar Pradesh with 50 is a close second, and Chhattisgarh, 43, Madhya Pradesh, 36, Maharashtra, 38, are bunched together. The National Capital of Delhi, its police controlled by the national government, recorded 6 cases.”
Tamil Nadu marked as most hostile state for Christians where caste has an important say. The report mentioning about the state says, “The Tamil Nadu violence has a disturbing overlay of caste discrimination, and the victims largely come from the so called lower castes in villages where the dominant groups object to prayer houses and even the entry of Christian religious leaders.”
RSS, VHP and several other extremist outfits are actively campaigning against Christian. And in result violence against religious minorities has suddenly shot up. Accusing Christians for involving in forced conversions of Hindus, saffron militants propagating it as a licence to vandalise churches, threaten priest, attack missionary schools and killed Christians.
Recently, Archbishop Anil Counto was questioned widely and criticised by front row BJP leaders. He wrote a letter to all the parishs and priests requesting them to organise a year-long prayer campaign to save the country from the turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to democratic principles in the constitution and secular fabric of the nation.
Rajnath Singh, Home Misnister denied any report of discrimination against Christians while BJP chief calls it as an act of religious polarisation. Several other leaders of the party went ahead and called it a propaganda and conspiracy against the country.
However, calling for prayer is a routine and has taken place before every general election. The secretary of Archbishop said, this time the exercise is being politicised.
The Christian community accounts for 28 million i.e 2.3 percent of the total population which is very small to even influence politics of the country. Then why it so that the Extreme right group is projecting the community as an enemy and feels threatened by a mare letter?
The answer lies in history, to convert India into Hindu Rashtra manufactured enemies were needed to give a call for mobalisation of Hindus. In an article to Indian Express Shamsul Islam writes, “Both Savarkar (Hindutva 1923) and Golwalkar (We or Our Nationhood Defined 1935) had declared Muslims and Christians foreigners to be thrown out of the Hindu Nation and denied Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism as independent religions.”
Even after Independence Muslims were suspects. The Bible of RSS cadres ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ (first edition 1966, chapter 16 titled ‘Internal Threats’) declared Muslims as threat number ONE and Christians as threat number TWO, writes Islam in the article.
However, AC Michel in his article to Matters India highlights some discriminatory laws and policies that violate the freedom of conscience and the freedom to practice, profess and propagate religious beliefs.
1950 PRESIDENTIAL ORDER: Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam are denied special benefits and protections guaranteed to other Schedule Castes
ANTI CONVERSION LAWS: The Freedom of Religion Acts are used to harass and abuse the right of Christians who share the good news in the exercise of their fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate their faith. In 2012, rules framed under the anti-conversion law in Himachal Pradesh that required persons to declare beforehand to the District Magistrate any intent to embrace a certain faith was struck down by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla.
NO ENTRY FOR CHRISTIAN PREACHERS: In 2014-2015, several Panchayat resolutions were passed in Chhattisgarh to ban Christian preachers’ entry into certain villages. These resolutions were withdrawn by the government following a challenge to them before the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur.
RESTRICTIONS ON CHURCHES AND PRAYER HALLS: Across the country, Christians are being restricted from conducting private prayers peacefully inhome churches and community halls. Even family prayers have been restricted in some cases.
These discriminatory laws have actually strengthened the dream politics of RSS and have successfully pushed Christians and Muslims to struggle with the ‘Indianness’ and citizenship idea.
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