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The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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Hindu Nationalist Groups Seek to “Cleanse” Christian Population in India


Vatican Radio - published on 09/08/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Pursuing the Hindu vote the Hindutva forces have unleashed propaganda of Indian harmony, culture, identity, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity being seriously under threat from indigenous Christian missionaries, whom they describe variously as terrorists, separatists and CIA operatives. The Christians under attack are more often than not from the lower economic strata. According to the Hindutva propaganda, the only way to save India is to unite behind Hindutva. "Arise Hindus, throw out the Christians!" is their slogan. Hindu nationalists are now committing attacks in front of television cameras, public meetings and even in the parliament. There have also been TV images which portray the perpetrators as Hindutva cult heroes.

Archbishop Albert D’Souza of Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and general secretary of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, added that sometimes "small groups of fanatics can give us concern," but argued that the Church "will continue in its mission to pray for the new government and contribute to the common good of the nation, supporting democracy, respect for pluralism, the rights of all and a secular concept in the political agenda."

New Delhi Archbishop Anil J. Couto has also raised concern at the rising attacks on Christians and churches in India in recent months. "It is very disturbing, and we request local authorities to take adequate measures to book the miscreants threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation," Archbishop Couto said.

"The Sangh Parivar plan [is] to carry out shuddhikaran — attempts to re-convert Christians to Hinduism," the archbishop continued." This move by fundamentalist groups is a grave assault on the fundamental rights of individuals and people and groups."

Other persecution watchdog ministries, like Open Doors, have also noted a rise in Hindu extremism targeting Christians. The group ranks India as number 28 on its list of countries where Christians face the most persecution.

In May, a village council in India passed an ordinance attempting to ban all Christian religious activity in a festival area. That came after some Christians in the village refused to pay a festival tax to a local Hindu temple. As a result of the village council’s efforts, Hindu radicals in other parts of India have attempted to get similar ordinances in their area. In some cases they were successful. The council decrees were eventually overturned when they reached the district administration, but Stark says that isn’t helping ease concerns.

In late July, the Chief of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), a prominent Hindu Nationalist Organization, courted controversy saying the world recognized India as a Hindu nation. “So Hindutva is India’s identity. It’s the identity of everybody staying in this country. Except the Jews and the Parsis, everybody’s ancestors in India were Hindus. We are all influenced by the Hindu culture.”

Bhagwat said the sole aim of the RSS was “to mobilize the Hindu society on the basis of Hindutva.”

“Mobilizing those who have forgotten that they are Hindus is the next task in line,” he said. The RSS, regarded as the ideological head of the BJP, had backed Narendra Modi for the general elections.

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