- Dec 8, 2019
A hostel was established in 1997 by the local Catholic diocese in central India to help members of the tribal community, who often have no access to education. It was recently closed by the local government and the students sent to a state-run facility. Bishop Anthony Chirayath of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Sagar said the closing of the facility is just another case of persecution against the minuscule Christian minority.
Since the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took over India’s national government in 2014, religious minorities have complained about increased harassment. Incidents of abuse have gotten worse over the past few months, with various Christians being detained or arrested for “attempted conversion,” and places of worship being vandalized.
Participants in a meeting hosted by the bishops of India said recent communal violence “threatened not just secularism, but the Constitution and the democratic fabric of the country.” They called upon the people to “seek strength from India’s deep spiritual reservoirs to end the increasing environment of hate, violence and disregard for the rule of law.”
Indian archbishop Thomas Menamparampil says priests have been harassed, educators taking a group of children for picnic are being questioned, religious sisters taking a team of nurses for training are being held up by vigilantes who keep watch on every movement. The archbishop said more and more of the media is coming under control of what he called “cultural nationalists,” while the police have become more pliable to the will of Hindu militants, and it is feared the courts could follow.
For the third time in less than a month, a group of Christians have been detained while trying to travel by train in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. They have been accused of trying to convert Hindus. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal has strongly condemned what he has termed “harassment” of a religious minority.
The leader of India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party met with Christian leaders in Kerala, the state with the largest Hindu population, in an effort to broaden the appeal of the party beyond its Hindu base. However, the meeting was reported not to have discussed any national political issues concerning the country’s Christian minority.