Ominous qualitative escalation in anti-Christian violence

United Christian Forum

PRESS STATEMENT 9 JUNE 2000

Ominous qualitative escalation in anti-Christian violence

Bomb blasts at Churches in Andhra, Goa, and Karnataka denounced

Christian Community deeply concerned at sharp rise in hate rhetoric by fundamentalist and communal groups; Government silence intriguing

The following is the text of the Statement issued at the Press conference addressed by Archbishop Alan de Lastic, President, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, President, United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Archbishop of Delhi; Church of North India's Bishop of Delhi Rt. Rev Karam Masih and Mr. John Dayal, National spokesman, All India Catholic Union, All India Christian Council and United Christian Forum for Human Rights

The sharp escalation in anti-Christian violence -- in the number of incidents, their intensity, spread and quality -- is an ominous development that must deeply worry Government, political leaders, civil society and all those who are concerned about our beloved country.

A Secular, Democratic and United India is being put to the test today by communal and fundamentalist forces. Innocent blood has been shed, and shed again. The cry of the traumatised community is sought to be drowned in the strident noise of a viciously poisonous, highly motivated and well-financed hate campaign.

We are intrigued by the response of those in power, and saddened at the silence of the Government on whom we look upon for support in meeting the gravest challenge our community has faced in the 53 years since Independence of India.

The brutal murder of Brother George Kuzhikandam in Navada, Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, on 7 June 2000 week was the culmination of near identical attacks on priests, nuns and lay persons in several places in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the last six months. The blasts of timer-triggered explosive devices on 8 June 2000 in the American Baptist Church, Ongole and Roman Catholic Mission church in Tadipalligudem, West Godavari (Both in Andhra Pradesh), St Andrews Church, Goa and the Catholic Church, Vadi (Karnataka) follow the blast at a prayer meeting in Machilipatnam in May. It was a miraculous providence that lives were not lost. We shudder at the dimension of human tragedy if it had been a Sunday, or a festival.

The Governments and their civil and police offices have chosen to see no more than `isolated criminal incidents' in all this. We wonder why those in authority do not see the pattern in the violence, and why they hesitate to explore fully all dimensions of the anti-Christian environment that has been created in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat, Haryana and other states. The sinister conspiracy and communal frenzy of fundamentalist elements is palpable to all persons of goodwill, who are as alarmed as we are at these developments.

The same period has seen several highly publicised `reconversions' of Christian tribals in Orissa with the district authorities and the police standing in witness. Heads of several fundamentalist organisations have declared at Press conferences, and in millions of copies of hate literature, their intention to `wage war' on minorities and their programme to `eliminate Christian missionaries'. Why is it that such activity has not engaged the attention of the Government and its agencies? Why is that it has not attracted the provisions of the Law of the Land?

This is what injures the fair name of this ancient land in the comity of nations.

The people of a free India do not have to appeal to Government for their safety and security. Their life and their freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution, and protected by the Rule of Law. The Government is in duty bound to uphold these guarantees. It must act now. It must restrain those who seek to divide communities, and threaten to wage war on innocent minorities. It must catch and punish those responsible for murder and terror. It must see the conspiracy and take pre-emptive measures. The blood of the innocents demands this.

Issued by John Dayal for favour of publication.
email: johndayal@vsnl.com

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