Catholic Group Laments Violence in India

A Case Reported Every 36 Hours

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KANPUR, India, MARCH 4, 2004 ( A key Catholic lay organization in India has called attention to the numerous cases of violence against Christians still awaiting justice.

The All India Catholic Union (AICU) applauded last Friday’s decision by the Indian Supreme Court to order the protection of witnesses in the trials under way in the state of Gujarat. The trials refer to the violence perpetrated primarily by Hindus against Muslims in bloody confrontations last spring.

In a statement sent to the Missionary Service News Agency, the AICU also mentions the hundreds of cases of abuse and violence against Christians, especially in the tribal areas of the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Gujarat. AICU notes that Christian communities suffered more than 600 attacks in 2003 alone.

Catholic organizations report a case of violence every 36 hours, including attacks on churches, Bible burning, denigrating acts against converts and even murders.

In most cases, those responsible are activists linked to groups such as the Sangh Parivar nationalist movement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh paramilitary corps, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajarang Dal, and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat, AICU reported.

The AICU also accuses the movements and the ruling nationalist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party of spreading hatred among communities, in particular, between the dalits (low-caste people) and the tribals, and between tribal members of traditional religions and Christian converts.

The Catholic organization has appealed to the Supreme Court to enforce existing laws that protect ethnic and religious minorities, and to censure the hate campaign fueled by Hindu extremists.

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