News of attacks on Christians in India made the papers a few months ago, then dropped out of the news. But the attacks have not abated, and Christians and Muslims in rural areas of India need our prayers. This letter was distributed by Sr. Marie-Therese, OP, from the Dominican Justice and Peace committee.
Attacks against Christian and Muslim minorities have existed for years in India rural zones. But they have become more violent since the end of August, especially in the State of Orissa (north East of India) and, more recently, in the Karnataka State (South west of India, Bangalore is the capital). The population of these two States include between 2 and 13% of Christians. But there has been violence also in several other States. The media have said little. It seems that the Government would like to hush it up.
I hope you can find it in your heart to also pray for the conversion of the hearts of the Hindu extremists, so they put aside their violent ways.
The authors of these crimes are Hindu extremists, especially the Hindutva movment whose active arm is the RSS (Rashtrya Swayamsevak Sangh) which is present in both India and the U.S. This movement is trying to establish a Hindu India, ethnically pure (like the Nazi Movement in the Germany of the thirties) It also wants to perpetuate the caste system. The Governing party does not fight them, and, in some cases, the police seem to take part with them in the attacks instead of trying to stop them.
There have been murders of priests (all Indians), of religious sisters (also Indians) and of lay people, destruction and desecration of churches, of convents, educational institutions, and orphanages… These attacks are not led by local Hindu people, but by gangs coming from the outside, fanatisized, indoctrinated, and sometimes inebriated.
The causes of these persecutions, in addition to ethnical purification, are of two kinds:
o allegation of mass conversions of Hindus to Christianity by force or by fraudulent tactics. This allegation is without foundation.
o the work of Christians with tribal people and dalits (the untouchable caste) makes them more aware of their human dignity and of their rights, thereby disturbing landlords in their use of these people as cheap labor in their farms.
An intervention of the international community is quite necessary, particularly of the U.N.
Our sisters are well, but they do not know for how long… Of course they are counting on our prayers and on whatever we can do to alert the international community. I hope to be able to suggest to you some concrete actions in a few days. A letter to the Prime Minister of India is being prepared at the level of the Dominican Family.