ASIA/INDIA - Christian delegation meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voices concern for repeated Hindu fundamentalist attacks on religious minorities: 19 in the first two months of 2005, and 6 against Catholic communities

Monday, 14 March 2005

New Delhi (Fides Service) - Serious concern for repeated episodes of violence against religious minorities on the part of Hindu fundamentalists was voiced by a delegation of Christian representatives, led by the Catholic Archbishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao, during a recent meeting with the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.
At the March 11 meeting with the Prime Minister, Archbishop Concessao mentioned only some of the many atrocities against Christians committed recently in various parts of India calling on the government to make more effort to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent such episodes in the future.
Representing various confessions, the Christian leaders asked the Prime Minister to adopt opportune and immediate measures to stop the violence. They said that Christians service to promote development for the poor and the excluded people such as the Dalits is not only not recognised, it is often wrongly labelled as religious proselytising.
Mr Singh assured the delegation that his government was committed to maintaining a secular state and guaranteeing pluralism, as well as harmony and security for religious minorities including Christians and he thanked the Christian representatives for the many services offered by their different communities.
According to Fides sources in India, in January and February 2005 there were no less than 19 attacks on Christian individuals or institutions and 6 of them were against the Catholic community. The number is a cause of concern and Christians everywhere in India are extremely worried.
The Bishops met the Prime Minister last year shortly after his appointment and expressed appreciation for the programme of the new government, assuring him of the collaboration of the Catholic Church for new socially innovative and socially productive policies. The Premier, confirming his commitment to building a climate of social harmony and economic progress, promised “episodes of violence against Christians will be a thing of the past”. As soon as he was appointed Mr Singh said his government’s priorities would include fostering social harmony, eliminating fundamentalism, promoting better living conditions for rural people and Dalits, as well as equal opportunities for education and employment.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/3/2005 righe 32 words 343)