AN ATTACK on a church in Jabalpur last Friday is the latest
aggressive act stoking fear among India's Christians. Police have
arrested six adherents of a right-wing Hindu group in connection
with the attack, the Times of India reported. Church
leaders claimed that intruders smashed flowerpots and broke
furniture, having alleged that conversions were taking place inside
The incident is the latest in a spate of attacks on churches and
Christians (News, 16
January), prompting Bishops to call on the government to fulfil
its promises to protect the country's religious minorities.
Demonstrations have been held to protest against the rape of a
71-year-old nun in West Bengal, this month.
A recent report - 300 days: Documenting hate and communal
violence under the Modi regime - compiled by the
secretary-general of the All India Christian Council, John Dayal -
claims that at least 43 Christians have died in 600 cases of
violence, since the government was elected last year; and that
there has been "a relentless foregrounding of communal identities,
a ceaseless attempt to create a divide between 'us' and 'them'."
The RC Bishop of Poona, the Rt Revd Thomas Dabre, said on Sunday:
"Fundamentalist elements feel that they can do anything against
minorities, especially Christians, under. . . Prime Minister
On Friday, Vatican Radio reported on a meeting of Indian
Christian MPs to devise a strategy to counter the attacks and
"showcase the community's immense contribution to the nation".
In a speech to Christian leaders last month, Prime Minister Modi
promised "complete freedom of faith" and that the Government would
"not allow any religious group . . . to incite hatred against
others, overtly or covertly". On Monday, the RC Archbishop of
Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, said that "effective action on
ground level is still awaited . . . Condemnation by itself doesn't
solve the problem, we must work towards a change of mindset."
The home minister, Rajnath Singh, said that "the government
cannot do everything. . . the cooperation of society is required."
He later tweeted: "Can social service not be performed in India
without resorting to conversion?" thought by some to be a reference
to Christian missionaries.
The Indian Government has denied the US Commission on
International Religious Freedom permission to visit.