ASIA/INDIA - Anti-Christian violence: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, announces a speech to Parliament and a letter to the leaders of the states of the federation asking them to take suitable measures

Thursday, 17 March 2005

New Delhi (Fides Service) - A speech to raise the problem in front of parliament and an official letter to the chief minister of every state of the Indian Federation: these measures were announced by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the day after he had listened to the affirmations and requests of Christian Bishops who, in a recent meeting with the Premier, complained of repeated episodes of violence against Christian individuals and institutions in various parts of the country. Fides sources registered 19 attacks in the first two months of this year and more attacks by Hindu fundamentalists in March.
“We will not tolerate violence against religious communities” Premier Singh told the delegation of Bishops and other Christian leaders when he received them at his office. The delegation gave the Prime Minister a detailed unofficial list of episodes of anti-Christian violence and called on the government to adopt effective measures to stop the violence and protect minority groups and to invest more resources for the economic and social development of less fortunate citizens.
Singh’s government includes a Catholic, Oscar Ferndandes Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Recently the Minister recalled that for centuries in India Hindus, Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully side by side: “Religious tolerance and pluralism are the most important factors for the progress of the country and the stability of democracy” he said.
In the meantime where was another episode of violence, which luckily had no serious consequences, on March 15, in Palayur, West Bengal where a gang of 10 armed and masked bandits assaulted a convent of Sisters of Charity. The Sisters were saved by local people who came to the rescue when they heard the nuns cries of alarm and the bandits fled.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/3/2005 righe 28 parole 283)