Christian Groups Express Concern Over Attacks on Community, Flag PM's 'Deafening Silence'

'The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is significantly notable,' said Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum.

New Delhi: Meghalaya’s leading Christian organisations expressed concern over the “increased targeting of the Christian community in the country“, and lamented over Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi “deafening silence” on the matter, The Telegraph reported.

The concerns raised by Christian organisations come in the wake of the recent vandalisation of a church in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, and the December 16 letter issued by the Assam Police’s to districts in the state to obtain data on the number of churches and religious conversion, among others.

Shillong-based Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF) in a statement said, “The deafening silence of the Prime Minister on atrocities against Christians over a long period of time in different parts of the country is significantly notable.”

The Forum, in particular, flagged the attack on a church inside Vishwa Dipti Christian School premises on Monday, January 2, in Narayanpur of Chhattisgarh. Several, including the superintendent of police of Narayanpur district, sustained injuries. Five people, including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, were arrested on Tuesday, January 3. The Congress party is in power in Chhattisgarh.

The Narayanpur incident was the latest in a series of attacks on the Christian community over alleged conversion in Chhattisgarh.

Separately, the Catholic Association of Shillong raised concerns over the Assam Police’s letter, describing it as “very alarming in nature, particularly towards Christian minorities in the state (Assam)”.

The developments concerning the Christian community in the country have drawn reactions from Meghalaya, which is a Christian-majority state. They have also brought about an unease in the National People’s Party-led coalition government of which the Bharatiya Janata Party is a constituent party.

Meghalaya’s overwhelming Christian majority is dominated by Catholics and followed by Baptists, Presbyterians, and of other denominations.

The Forum’s secretary Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Kharkongor said that the Forum had hoped that those in the seat of authority would have “strongly disapproved” of the adverse actions perpetrated by certain organisations against Christians and people who exercise their individual choice of faith and religion.

Extending its solidarity to the Christian community across the country which “continues to experience aggression and injustice”, the Forum exhorted the authorities in the states and Union government to “protect the lives and properties of Christians and other minority groups” all over the country and to rein in the perpetrators of violence and hatred.

The Catholic Association of Shillong, for its part, urged Union home ministry to ensure exercises “targeting Christian minorities are stopped once and for all” while seeking “steps to enhance the space of communal harmony”.

On the Assam Police letter, the Catholic association said, “The details sought with regard to community, area and pattern of conversation surely befit the term prejudice towards some particular communities, regions and cultural receptivity of such community.”

The Catholic association statement further said “the seven particulars sought by the department specifically targeting Christians in the state… are nothing short of attempts to intimidate and threaten the community at large”.

“Further, we appeal upon the Government of Assam, particularly the chief minister of Assam, Shri. Himanta Biswa Sarma, to kindly reverse such an order with immediate effect and ensure that Christians in the state are shown the leaf of hope and confidence…,” the Catholic Association said.

Earlier, Sarma had asserted that the letter in question had nothing to do with his government. “I would like to clarify the position of the government of  Assam: we don’t want to have any survey on any church or, for that matter, on any other religious institution…. In short, I completely dissociate myself from the letter. It was never discussed at any government forum.”