Christians not safe in India’s Karnataka State | By Jubel D’Cruz, Mumbai

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Christians not safe in India’s Karnataka State

IN Karnataka, right-wing activists like the BJP, the Sangh Pariwar, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the RSS keep barging into Catholic/Christian churches and attack worshippers, accusing them of forced conversions, which is not true.

The Archbishop of Bengaluru, Peter Machado has urged the Karnataka government to stop hurting Christians across the state and appealed to the government to protect the community.

He was reacting to the demolition of the statue of Jesus Christ at Gokunte village in Kolar District that was demolished in Karnataka a few days ago.

Attacks on churches across the state of Karnataka remain unabated.The systematic and ill-conceived demolition drive is pursued with dogged determination by the government and its machinery.

This is yet another ruthless demolition of a Christian structure, which included a 20-foot statue of Jesus Christ and 14 Stations of Cross, carried out by civic authorities.

The Karnataka government has introduced a regulation for the protection of religious structures on government land.

Does this regulation apply only on Hindus and not Christians?Not just Christians, but even Muslims are not safe in Karnataka as it is ruled by the BJP.

Christians have seen demolitions occurring at seven such places, and systematic attacks on churches across the State in the last five years.

According to media reports, in most cases, Christians have also been forced to shut down their places of worship and stopped from assembling for their Sunday prayer services.

Every Sunday is a day of terror and trauma for Christians in Karnataka, especially for those belonging to those small churches.

Effectively, these attacks on praying in a gathering that is enforced by Hindutva groups with the complicity of the State function as a bar on the freedom to practice religion itself.

Far from the right to propagate religion, today the attacks in Karnataka are on the right to freely profess and practise religion.

Anti-Christian violence has increased dramatically ever since the BJP started its rule at the Centre in March 1998.

Article 25 of the Indian Constitution says, “All persons are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.

” Festive celebrations are being disrupted, the statues of Jesus Christ are being smashed, and effigies of Santa Claus are being burnt not just in Karnataka but all over the country.

Amid growing intolerance and violence against India’s Christian minority, who make up only 2% of the total population, several Christian events are being targeted by the Hindu right wing groups, who say that Christians are using festivities to force Hindus to convert to Christianity.

In recent years, Christians have increasingly faced harassment around Christmas but last year saw a notable surge in attacks.

In Agra, members of right-wing Hindu groups burned effigies of Santa Claus outside missionary-led schools and accused Christian missionaries of using Christmas celebrations to lure people in.

In Assam, two protesters in saffron, the signature colour of Hindu nationalism, entered a Presbyterian church on Christmas night and disrupted proceedings, demanding that all people leave the building.

Shame on you, Narendra Modi for allowing your people to attack Christians.Mind you, India does not belong to you.It belongs to all Indians.All this is being done in front of your eyes and you are doing nothing to stop it.

I would like to add that not just Christians but even Muslims are not safe in India’s Karnataka State.

Muslim girl students in Karnataka have been asked not to wear the hijab, which is a religious symbol in Islam in schools and colleges.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Mumbai, India

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