According to the report published by The Wire, A Bishop has asked for president Kovind’s urgent intervention to ensure the safety and security of Christians in Madhya Pradesh after frequent attacks and rampant anti-Christian violence in the sate
According to the bishop, this appeal is being sent out after individuals claiming to be members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) threatened to demolish churches in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district.
On September 17, the Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Protestant Shalom Church in Jhabua led a delegation to the tehsildar and submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind.
The letter said that many Adivasis in Jhabua district who have faith in Jesus Christ are being targeted by Hindutva organisations such as Bajrang Dal and VHP and being framed in fake cases of conversion. “Due to such threats, Adivasis in this area are living under fear and pressure,” the letter said.
Further, the letter noted that if these incidents continue, it could lead to severe damage to the area as communal tension and violence may erupt.
He also appealed to the state’s governor and chief minister to intervene and diffuse the situation.
“The onslaught on citizens of minority faith continues in Madhya Pradesh. Individuals claiming to be members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) say they are preparing to demolish churches in the Jhabua district on Sunday, 26 September,” Muniya said in the statement.
Expressing anguish, Muniya further asked, “If there is an illegal structure, let the administration take action. Why are private individuals and organisations issuing such threats?”
The issue began in early September, when a group of men visited several churches in this district and said that they would demolish all the “illegal structures running as churches”. They also accused the priests of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity.
Violence against Christians in India
Jhabua district is located in western Madhya Pradesh and borders Baroda. Similar unrest was witnessed in the district when Azad Prem Singh, a local leader of the VHP, had demanded the closure of all churches in the area earlier this year.
The bishop says that the continued escalation of communal threats, even though focused on Jhabua and surrounding tribal-dominated districts, could have had repercussions across the country.
He added that states like Madhya Pradesh are even more vulnerable because they have enacted anti-conversions laws.
Madhya Pradesh is among the four Indian states including Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to have enacted a new anti-conversion law.
Experts and social activists have repeatedly said that anti-conversion laws may be misused by the state to target minority groups such as Muslims and Christians. The law also corresponds with the belief of the Hindu right organisations that Hindus, who are in majority in India, are in danger from the domination of Muslims or Christians.
According to UCF data, Christians in many parts of India continue to struggle to freely practice and propagate their faith, as multiple cases of violence against the minority group across the country continue to surface and get documented everyday.
According to just one month data from March 2020 by the UCF, there were at least 27 incidents of violence against Christians in 10 Indian states including Uttar Pradesh (six), Chhattisgarh (five), Tamil Nadu (three) and Odisha (three), Bihar (two), Karnataka (two), Madhya Pradesh (two), Maharashtra (two), Telangana (one) and Goa (one).
The same data indicates that within the first three months of 2020, a staggering 78 incidents of violence against Christians had occurred. The instances range from mob attacks, threats, intimidation and physical assault.
c. The Wire