ASIA/INDIA - In Gujarat a Church under construction was destroyed by Hindu fundamentalist extremists

Thursday, 22 July 2004

Ahmedabad (Fides Agency) - After the recent episode in Hyderabad, in Andra Pradesh State (southeastern India), where a group of 100 extremists attacked several priests and Catholic believers, the Hindu extremists have again attacked the Christian community. Another gesture of religious intolerance is reported in Gujarat State (western India), well-known for its massive presence of extremist groups siding with the nationalist ideology of hindutva (“Hinduness”).
In the village of Rohiyal Talal, in the Kaprada region, early in the morning on Sunday July 18th, a few members of the fundamentalist group called Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, WHP) reached the site where a church was being built and devastated and destroyed the start of the construction. According to the All India Christian Council, an organism which harshly condemned the attack, the local Catholic community denounced what had happened in the morning of July 19th, but the Police have still not arrested anybody.
According to the investigations carried out by the legal enforcers, the attack was some kind of revenge of the Hindu believers against Suresh Ada Varli, the man who finances the construction of the church, formerly a Hindu, recently converted to Catholicism. Many tribal leaders of the villages opposed the construction some time ago and incited by the VHP they carried out the attack.
In the meanwhile, because of the new attacks of Hindu extremists against Christian institutions and people, and in spite of the new Indian government’s assurances that it will soon pass a bill in defense of religious minorities, local Churches in several Indian states have created commissions to fight anti-Christian violence. In the State of Madhva Pradesh (Central India), a few dioceses, such as Bhopal, Lahore, Jabalpur, Ujiain, have formed “crisis committees” enacting modalities and strategies to face the cases of violence.
In January this year, after a child was found dead inside a Catholic school, Madhva Pradesh was the background to large scale anti-Christian violence. Even though the Police found the culprit was a Hindu, the extremists accused the Catholics of the murder. In the six following months, in Madhva Pradesh there have been more than 30 attacks against Christian people and places.
(PA) (Fides Agency 22/7/2004 Lines 34, Words 242)