India: Interior Minister promises a safe Christmas
The Indian Minister of the Interior, Mr Rajnath Singh has promised the Church in India of peaceful Christmas celebrations this year, when a delegation led by Card. Baselios Cleemis president of the Indian Bishops’ Conference (CBCI) met him on Wednesday.
In recent days the Christian minority has been facing attacks from the Hindu fundamentalists who accuse them of forced religious conversions.
Last week in Satna diocese , Madhya Pradesh, 30 seminarians and two priests were detained while they were in a village to perform Christmas carols. The Hindu radicals held them hostage and set a car on fire owned by another priest who had rushed to the police station to get news of the detainees. A couple of days ago in Uttar Pradesh a far-right youth faction linked to chief minister Yogi Adityanath issued a warning to Catholic schools: not to celebrate Christmas because it "leads" to the conversion of children. During the Advent period, again in Uttar Pradesh, seven Pentecostals were arrested on proselytism charges; the judge ordered them to be released on bail, but their judicial case is just beginning.
In a memorandum submitted to the home minister to seek justice for innocent people suffering he has requested that such events do not happen in future and to provide safety for everyone in the country.
Cardinal went to Satna, and collected the testimonies of the Catholics and spoke to the police and civil authorities. The events of Satna, he argues, "threaten the credentials of our democratic system.” He bemoaned that the police remained silent spectators when the Church people were manhandled inside the police station. The seminarians have been conducting non formal education in the village for several years. The attackers were all outsiders, not the villagers, the cardinal explained. “Instead of registering a case against the attackers the police filed a case against a priest for alleged conversion,” he added. He dismissed the conversion charge as “frivolous” and “absolutely baseless.” (AsiaNews)