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Church Fire, Hindu Goddess in Schools, Trumped-Up Charges: Christians in India Face Mounting Pressure

John Matthew

Anto Akkara - published on 12/05/14 - updated on 06/07/17

ghar vapsi” (home-coming) to the Hindu fold.

Hours after government officials convened the protesting Christians for a “peace meeting,” a truckload of Hindu fundamentalists reached the venue and attacked the Christians, leaving a dozen Christians in the hospital.

Pointing out that “Chhattisgarh has particularly witnessed regular and repeated attacks on the fundamental rights of the minority Christian community,” the memorandum cited the shocking incident of the Catholic Diocese of Jagadalpur being pressured to put up pictures of a Hindu goddess in Catholic schools.

Under a “joint agreement” released at a press conference on November 23 by leaders of local Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), leaders of the diocese said that the majority Hindu student body in 20-odd Catholic schools would be exempted from addressing the principals of the church-run schools as “Father.”

“We have to keep our institutions running,” Father Abraham Kannamplackal of Jagadalpur Diocese told Aleteia about the “agreement” he had to sign with the VHP leaders.

In the context of such brazen attempts to bring the minorities to their knees, the church leaders in their memorandum reminded Prime Minister Modi: “India is a land where different religious faiths have long since flourished and our founding father made special efforts to ensure that the rights of all are safeguarded irrespective of our religious beliefs, gender or caste.”

“Any attempt to weaken the socio-religious fabric of the nation must be dealt with swiftly and effectively. We hope and pray that such discrimination and targeted violence will be ended by strong political will and administrative action,” they urged.

“Small religious communities such as the Christians need to be reassured they are protected and are secure and safe in their motherland,” the memorandum reminded Modi.

Meanwhile, Christians are furious over the “illegal detention” of a 60-year-old Jesuit principal on a trumped-up molestation charge in eastern Jharkhand state. A magistrate sent Father Soosai Nayagam, principal of St Berchmans’s Inter-College (higher secondary school) at Mundli was sent on November 24 to police remand for two weeks, despite the alleged victim refusing to sign the police register.

“This is a pre-planned and fabricated case,” lamented Jesuit Father George Uthirakulam, vice provincial of Dumka-Raiganj. The principal was arrested following violence by a section of the students after they “trapped” him to discuss a problem in the classroom and accused him of molesting a 19-year-old girl.

“Within five minutes of the trouble, ten TV channels were on the campus. Everything was cleverly planned and executed,” Father Uthirakulam pointed out. The priest was “framed” for being “strict with the students,” he added.

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