New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - New violence against Christians, carried out in view of Christmas, cause concern in the Indian Christian community. According to information gathered by Fides, on December 14 a group of about 30 Hindu militants attacked a group of Catholic faithful in Tikariya, a village just outside the city of Banswara, in Rajasthan State, hitting the Catholic priest Stefphan Rawat, women and other Christians. As reported to Fides by Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), as tradition the Catholic were roaming the streets of the village singing the traditional Christmas "carols" in a mini procession which started at the end of Mass. The extremists, armed with sticks and batons, joined and beat them with violence, in defiance of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
There are other recent acts of unjustified violence, such as what occurred in early December on a Christian woman in the state of Chhattisgarh: Samari Kasabi, 55, of the Christian village of Dokawaya, was killed in a brutal attack that forced other Christians to convert Hinduism for fear of being murdered. Kasabi was stripped naked, beaten to death and then burned by her neighbors in a night of terror. The crowd of militants was looking for her son Sukura, 35, and his family, but could not find them, so they decided to kill Samari. Local police arrested the head of the village for two days before releasing him without charge. Previously other family members were kidnapped by the Naxalites, a group of Indian communist guerrillas, while they were praying for the sick and the needy in their village. The family members said that they had been repeatedly persecuted.
Even in the other state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India, in recent days some Hindu extremists attacked a Protestant church and hit the faithful with stones during a liturgy. And some sacred statues, like those of St. Anthony and St. Lawrence within the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Health in Udupi district, Karnataka state, were desecrated and destroyed by vandals during the night of 11 December.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) is documenting a series of incidents and violence against Christians in India, particularly in the states of Karnataka and Orissa, just as Christmas approaches. For this reason it calls on the security forces to ensure the protection necessary because "the small and vulnerable Christian community can pray in peace and security and celebrate this holy time of Christmas".
In India, Christians are about 2.5% of the population while 80% of the 1.3 billion population are Hindus. Conversion to Christianity is expressly prohibited by law in five Indian states. The Indian government at a federal level, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party, is accused of turning a blind eye on attacks against religious minorities in the country. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/12/2016)