Ethnic Cleansing Of Christians in India

General October 11, 2008


National United Christian Forum

(CBCI, NCCI and EFI Churches)

Archbishop’s House, 1 Ashok Place, New Delhi – 110001
+91 11 23343457/ 23362058 Fax: +91 11 23746575

Archbishop Vincent Concessao

Bishop Dr. Taranath S. Sagar

Rev. Halli Likha

CBCI, President NUCF

President NCCI, Vice President NUCF

Chairman, EFI, Vice Chairman NUCF

Rev. Fr. Thomas Sequira

Bishop Dr. D.K. Sahu

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell

Deputy Secretary General, CBCI

General Secretary, NCCI

General Secretary, EFI

The prevailing ethnic cleansing of Christians in India and in particular in Orissa and Karnataka was the point of deliberation in a meeting of the National United Christian Forum held in Delhi on 7th October 2008.

The various Churches in India condemn the unprecedented deliberate and systematic ethnic cleansing of Christians motivated by the Hindutva extremist groups like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. From 25th August 2008 onwards, the Hindu extremist groups are burning, killing, beating, raping and forcing conversion of Christian believers to Hinduism. They are systematically destroying homes, churches, orphanages, Bible Schools, even burning entire villages throughout the State of Orissa, particularly in the district of Kandhamal. Though not widely, but this has also spread in other parts of India.

At least 48 Christians are reported to be killed - mostly burned alive or hacked to death. More than 4300 homes are burnt, 50,000 are rendered homeless. More than 400 Churches and prayer halls destroyed. There is no protection even in the camps run by the Orissa government where there is no proper water supply and the camps are repeatedly attacked, sometimes even bombed. The police are seen to be just standing and watching. In Karnataka over 40 churches and prayer halls have been destroyed. Sacred objects are desecrated, vandalized.

The August 23rd killing of Hindu religio-political leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples in the Kandhamal district of the eastern state of Orissa has been condemned by the Church. Although the local Maoist have claimed responsibility for killing him; the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad groups continue to blame local Christians for it.

The Sangh Parivar continues to fabricate stories to justify their project of ethnic cleansing and killing of innocent Christians. On the day of the killing the media reports blamed the Maoists for the killing of Swami but the very next day Christians were blamed, then Christian Maoist were blamed and now fabricated documents with forged signatures are surfacing that the Church pre planned the killing of Swami. Christians neither believe nor practice religious conversions using coercive, fraudulent or allurement or by denigrating other faiths. There is not a single case of conviction, in any court of India, against any Christian, for converting by force or allurements. However, the media continues to report stories of Christians being forcefully converted to Hinduism in Orissa.

The Church in India has never engaged in violent activities. It has served the nation through its educational, health and social services both in cities and in poor remote areas. It has rendered sacrificial services to empower the poor and the marginalized. However a section of the Sangh Parivar mocks even the sacrificial service of Mother Teresa. Attempts are made by some sections of the Sangh Parivar to divide the Church body by blaming certain sections within the Christian community. The Church speaks with one voice that attacks against Christians must be dealt in accordance with the law of the land. The state has failed to protect its minorities and should bear the responsibility for dereliction of its duty.

Ultimately, Christian response to communal violence and ethnic cleansing is best expressed in the Biblical understanding of forgiveness. Jesus Christ taught his followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We certainly follow this but we seek the rights of all citizens safeguarded and justice done. The Church in India has always promoted inter-religious harmony and inter-religious dialogue. It is with determination to live in harmony and in meaningful collaboration for peace, justice; truthfulness and reconciliation with everyone around us that we seek to serve God and our Nation.

We are encouraged by the civil society of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and people of various ideologies who have come forward to condemn the evil deeds of a section of Sangh Parivar and to help the victims of violence in many ways. We are thankful that the majority of the people of our country recognize the Christian minority as a peace-loving community, ever eager to render service to people of all social strata and religious affiliations, especially those who are poor and marginalized.

Recommendations

For Central Government:

For State Government:

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Secretary, NUCF