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Aruna Roy Demands Safety of Christians in India

Global Council of Indian Christians

5/30/07 India (Persecution Update India) – Globally renowned social activist and head of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Aruna Roy, has called for urgent steps to protect the minority Christian community in Rajasthan from attacks by fundamentalist groups.

In a letter to the state governor, the former civil servant says the motive behind the series of atrocities is “to deliberately manipulate sentiments for pushing through the pending Rajasthan Religious Freedom Bill, 2006 in the State.” Roy is among India ’s foremost campaigners for transparency and has been honoured with a host of national and international awards including the Ramon Magsaysay award.

Full text of Ms Roy’s letter:

5th May, 2007


Srimati Pratibha Patil



Subject: The Christian minority community in Rajasthan and repeated attacks on their dignity

Dear Srimati Pratibhaji Patil,

I write to you with great concern about recent happenings with the Christian community in Jaipur, and the series of incidents with minority communities that have plagued the secular climate of the State in the last few years. It is known that Rajasthan has always been a peaceful state, and kept up the spirit of brotherhood, warmth and communal amity between communities. People from all religions, sects and communities have lived on cordial terms with each other for ages. However, in the last few years, attempts are being made to destroy this fabric of peaceful co-existence. In recent years, there have been premeditated attacks in many places on the very small Christian population living in the state, causing an environment of fear for the community.

In the recent incident on 28th April, father Walter Massey, a Christian teacher, was attacked in broad daylight, by people reportedly linked to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at his residence in Nandpuri situated right next to the high-security Civil Lines area in Jaipur. The assaulters wounded the father badly with lathis and ran away. The whole incident was filmed by a TV crew and the whole country saw a live display of communal violence. The police arrived on the scene two hours after the incident, despite it having happened in the heart of the city. Now, seven people have been arrested, but the mastermind behind the attack is still out of the police net. The planned and deliberate attack on father Walter Massey is a stain on Rajasthan’s culture of tolerance, its tradition of peace and communal harmony. This simply cannot be tolerated and the many voices raised in protest, proclaims that this was an act that does not have popular support, but was an act perpetrated by a small and specific group of people.

Some self styled “religious”, communal organisations have been active in the State in creating and spreading an atmosphere of religious hatred and contempt. These organisations have repeatedly used the allegation of “religious conversions” to target Christian teachers, their educational institutions and other organisations. The motive behind all this is to deliberately manipulate sentiments for pushing through the pending Rajasthan Religious Freedom Bill, 2006 in the State. There has been no substantive proof of instances where conversions have happened by force or by allurement in the State. On the other hand, merely on the basis of false allegations and suspicion about religious conversion, numerous attacks have been engineered creating immense tension. I would like to set down some of the major happenings which show that the attack on Walter Massey is not an isolated incident and there is in fact a growing threat to the security and safety of the Christian community:

On 19th February 2005, Sister Heida of Sophia School , Kota was brutally beaten up and on the same night, Christian worshippers coming on the train were forcefully kidnapped, tortured and sent back without tickets.

On 23rd February, a thanksgiving meeting (“dikshant samaroh”) was organized by Emmanuel Mission, Kota . Christians coming to take part in the event were stopped and indecently treated. Pandemonium was created at the meeting, petrol bombs were thrown at the orphanage, the police were pelted with stones and a demonstration with naked swords also took place.

On 25th October, 2005 a road-block and protest took place against the Rajasthan Christian Festival organized in Sagawa village, Banswara for six hours, and people incited. On the same day, three nuns were assaulted and badly wounded. The car used by head of Udaipur Diocese, Joseph Pathalli, was also attacked.

On 27th October, people who had come to participate at a conference of fathers of Emmanuel Mission Society, Kota were beaten up and ill-treated.

On 19th December, 35-40 people of the Masihi community located on the Ajmer ’s Srinagar road were attacked and the assaulters fled. O.V.David, Michael Bale, Narendra Damor, Ashish and Vinod were wounded. 10-15 women present at that time at the church were badly battered.

In the same month, a Catholic father in Banswara was assaulted and badly wounded.

From February 14th onwards, Christian institutions, schools, prayer halls and Bible institutes across the state were systematically targeted following cases against M.G Mathew, Dr.M.A.Thomas and Samuel Thomas in connection with the book “Hakeekat”.

On 17th February, rioters caused damage and destruction in Emmanuel Mission School , Ramganj Mandi in Kota and attempted to set its bus on fire.

In another act of violence and destruction, activists belonging to Bajrang Dal and other Hindu organisations broke into the office of Emmanuel Mission School in Jhalawar, smashing the furniture, cutting telephone lines and creating damage in the church.

Shiv Sainiks entered the St.Paul’s School situated on Mala Road, Kota and severed the arm of St.Paul’s statue.

In Talvandi locality, Kota the troublemakers entered the Emmanuel Mission School and broke the glass of three buses and a jeep.

Demonstrators came in at the time of the prayer service in Bundi shouting “throw out Pastor Alex Sam!”

The Emmanuel Missionary Secondary School and Believers’ Church located on Jhotwara Road, Jaipur were attacked. The gates were forced open; the scoundrels got onto the cross, broke it, and wrote “ Om ” and other Hindu religious words on it.

On 26th February, believers were prevented from entering the Rajasthan Bible Institute on Ajmer Road, Jaipur. Over 300 people created chaos outside the campus and tried to lock up the gates.

Hindu hardliners broke into St.Xavier’s School in Jaipur, causing damage and destruction.

On 15th February, Emmanuel Mission School in Adarsh Nagar, Beawar was targeted by people belonging to Hindu organisations. The school board was broken, the doors were forced open and the manager’s name plate was shattered and the owner of the building Sri Dvivedi was also beaten up. The telephone lines were also severed and the assaulters had brought acid with them.

In Asind tehsil, Bhilwara district, people returned to St.Paul’s school from giving a memorandum regarding “Hakeekat.” Dozens of people on motorcycles entered the school premises, broke the glass of the school bus, shouting and demanding that the Father come out.

On 19th February 2005, two employees of Emmanuel Sanstha, Kota were beaten up.

In year 2005, a tense situation prevailed in Kalinjara, Banswara regarding Christian missionaries alleging religious conversion.

On 7th March 2007, a Christian couple in village Dabha Jhalar of Suratgarh area was accused of trying to convert a Sikh couple using allurements and making offensive comments about the Hindu and Sikh religions. Attempts were made to beat up the couple Reverend Sedarak Karad and Suniti Karad.

On 23rd March 2007, a fight took place between Philip (resident of Naeda) and South-Mumbai resident Jacob Thomas along with two other friends and members of Hindu sangathans.

This country has had a long relationship with the Christianity which began when St.Thomas landed on the shores of Kerala, immediately after the death of Christ. Indian Christians have contributed to nation building and have never seen themselves as separate from the rest of India . The country has benefited immensely from numbers of Christian institutes of education and its hospitals over centuries. Many of the elite who rule this country will count their stint in one of these institutions of learning as an important reason for their present position. It is a shame that these acts take place repeatedly and no real punitive and deterrent action is taken by the Rajasthan Government.

The most fundamental underlying concern in all these actions is the violation of Constitutional rights of all minorities, as indeed of all citizens to their right of worship and self expression. The bogey of conversion is being used to strengthen discriminatory and constitutionally violative political agendas.

In the light of all this, I write to you to urge you to ensure that the government of Rajasthan treats attacks on the minority community as a matter of grave concern. Directives may please be issued to the Rajasthan Government for immediate action be taken in the case of Father Walter Massey, including bringing those people who encouraged, instigated and planned the attack to book, and strong administrative measures be taken to ensure that no such act is allowed to happen in Rajasthan in the future.

Thanking you, with regards

Yours sincerely,

Aruna Roy

For the MKSS