Violence Against Christians Increases In India

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According to the Mumbai Correspondent for Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org), Hindu extremist attacks on Christians in Maharashtra state could expand even as violence elsewhere in India grows in areas where extremist groups had not been so active, Christian leaders said.

The correspondent said that Ram Puniyani of the All India Secular Forum said at press conference in Mumbai this month that Maharashtra is vulnerable to increased attacks on Christians after "a decade of heightened Hindutva [Hindu nationalism], especially targeting tribal and Adivasi [indigenous] communities, as they are easy targets, with little fear of retaliation."

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), he added, released preliminary results of a study on Feb. 1, with Christian leaders saying that persecution is not increasing in comparison with previous years but is appearing in new areas. While the perennially troublesome Karnataka state last year saw the most attacks on Christians with 67, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 28, four new states entered the top 20: More attacks from Hindu extremists took place in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Mizoram and Goa than in previous years.

Moreover, he said, CSF noted persecution against Christians from Islamic extremists in Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and West Bengal.

Joseph Dias, general secretary of CSF, said the study chronicled 250 of the worst cases of persecution, but that the actual number of incidents nationwide was much higher. While there were no pogroms such as occurred in Orissa state in 2008, persecution has become more widespread, with an increase in Hindu nationalist attacks even where the "Hindu brigade" is not traditionally strong, he said.

Parliamentary and state assembly elections in the next year portend an increase in attacks as Hindu extremists try to divide voters along religious lines, he said.

Michael Saldanha, former justice of the Bombay High Court, told Morning Star News that he has urged federal Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to ban Hindutva groups such as the Sanathan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat, which come under the "Saffron umbrella" with an agenda of a Hindu religious state.

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SOURCE: ASSIST News Service
Dan Wooding
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