ASIA/INDIA - Catholics: in view of the elections, "No" to polarization in society

Tuesday, 26 March 2019 politics   elections   human rights   religious minorities   hinduism   extremism  

Varanasi (Agenzia Fides) - "The polarization of ethnic and religious communities must be avoided, in view of the elections": this is the appeal issued by the "All India Catholic Union" (AICU), the oldest organization of lay Catholics in Asia which, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, expresses deep concern about how, in the electoral campaign, the phenomenon of "communitarianism", that is the contrast between communities of different faith, often instrumentalized for the purposes of political consensus, is exacerbated.
As the general elections in the country are approaching, scheduled between April and May, the President of AICU Lancy D'Cunha and spokesman Dr. John Dayal recall in a message that "Muslims and Dalits are victims of targeted violence. Also violence against the Christian community in the district of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, governed by Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath, member of the Bharatiya Janata Party is worrying". Between September and December 2018 - reports AICU - Uttar Pradesh saw as many as 109 cases of violence against Christian Pastors, churches and assemblies of faithful in small towns and villages. In the early months of 2019, the region recorded other 15 cases of violence.
AICU notes the violence of the "Sangh Parivar" activists (Hindu nationalists) in every part of the country, while "in most cases, the police are complicit or simply watch and impunity encourages the crowds to act". The association reiterates its request to recognize the Christian and Muslim Dalits the same rights that the Constitution attributes to Dalits of Hindu religion.
Furthermore, the Union criticizes the insensitivity of the Electoral Commission which has ordered voting to be carried out also on Holy Thursday (18 April) in different parts of the country. Celebrating its centenary of foundation in September 2019, AICU recalls the difficult socio-economic condition of the Christian community, especially the scarce employment opportunities for young people, and the difficult condition of Christian Dalits and tribals in different states of India .
Elections will be held in seven phases, according to the different states of the Federation: April 11th, April 18th, April 23rd and April 29th and then on May 6th, 12th and 19th. The counting of votes is scheduled for 23rd May. The Indian electorate is about 900 million people. Alongside the vote for the federal parliament, voting will be held for four state assemblies, in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Orissa. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 26/3/2019)