ASIA/INDIA - Holy Week marred by episodes of religious intolerance

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 religious freedom   religious minorities   hinduism   violence   local churches  

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) – Christians in India fear new episodes of intolerance and disturbance during this Easter season. Fides received reports of incidents in six different states of India, episodes of harassment and abuse on the part of Hindu extremists during Palm Sunday liturgies on 9 April.
In the state of Madhya Pradesh three Indian evangelical pastors leading a Palm Sunday service were arrested at the instigation of Hindu fundamentalists on charges of forced conversions and allurement. The three pastors are now in prison pending bail.
In Tamil Nadu, a 24 hour home prayer meeting was suspended by the police for not having a permit, although the law requires no permit for such gatherings. Pastor Gunasekharan, who was leading the prayer meeting, was forced to promise not to hold such gatherings again.
In Chattisgar state, Christians in three different churches in the outskirts of the capital Raipur were threatened and terrorised by Hindu extremist groups. About 20 men on motorbikes rode into church premises during early morning prayers, deriding and intimidating the congregations.
In Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu extremist attacked a Pastor and members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini youth group broke into a church interrupting prayers, similar interference in church services is reported in the states of Rajasthan and Haryana, on the grounds of presumed conversion campaigns.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide told Fides: “It is worrying to hear that Christians in the world’s most populous democracy are facing aggression from Hindu fundamentalist groups and law enforcement agencies, given that freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. We urge the Indian government to take firm action against fundamentalist groups and law enforcement officials that intimidate and attack religious minorities.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/4/2017)