BANGALORE, India – There have been 500 reported incidents of anti-Christian violence in India in the past 23 months, claimed a Bangalore-based Christian advocacy group this week.
As the world this week prepared to mark International Human Rights Day, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) accused influential Hindu organizations such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers' Organization) and the Bharatiya Janata (Indian People's) Party of promoting attacks against Christian workers.
"The attacks on Christians have been largely the sinister religious hatred of the Hindutva forces, under the umbrella organization of the Sangh Parivar (Family of Associations) like the RSS and the BJP, and their affiliate bodies like Bajrang Dal (Army of Hanuman), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and others," GCIC stated.
The group said it has urged Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to invoke the constitutional provisions to control the BJP and its affiliates in order to restrain staff members from polluting the atmosphere with what appears to be its communal agenda.
Quoting one of the constitutional rights that grants every Indian citizen the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, GCIC questioned why "seven states in India have introduced the anti-conversion laws which ban 'forced' religious conversions."
"In the name of 'forced' religious conversions, many Christian workers and converts are being persecuted," it alleged.
GCIC said this is in violation of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees everyone the right and the freedom to preach, practice and propagate his or her religion.
The advocacy group expressed grave concern over the renewed activities of communal forces – the latest manifestation of which was the attack on two groups of individuals belonging to the order of the Missionaries of Charity.
It also made note of the series of escalating brutalities inflicted on hapless individuals, and attacks on worshippers in India.
"While the missionaries are quite willing to pardon the evil doers – from the point of view of peace in society – such disruptive forces cannot be allowed to play free," GCIC asserted.
"They have already done enough to sow seeds of discord in the name of religion and caste. This type of threat to internal freedom is worse than terrorist attacks."
According to Dr. John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, statistics gathered from Jan. 1 to Nov. 16 showed that the number of atrocities against Christians this year surpassed the marks of recent years.
The victims include members of almost every church denomination in the country - Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals. They include priests, nuns, pastors, wives of pastors, believers, seminarians and Bible school students, and lay persons.
Violence includes attempted murder, armed assault, sexual molestation, illegal confinement and grievous injury.
Dayal noted, however, that the figures "do not include cases that have not come to the notice of the All India Christian Council, the All India Catholic Union, the GCIC, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and the Christian Legal Association."
The list also does not include widespread incidents that were simply categorized as "violence" but which Dayal said certainly bore signs of religious intolerance, bigotry, social discrimination and ostracization.
Nor does it include violence in which Christians are victims together with others, such as the displacement of Tribals due to government action, Dayal added in a statement.
Christian Post correspondent Dibin Samuel in Bangalore contributed to this article.