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Indian Party Promises to Persecute Christians in Order to Gain Votes

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address Contact Jeremy Sewall, Policy Analyst, 1-800-ICC (422)-5441, [email protected]

(December 19, 2007) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Hindu extremist groups openly campaigned for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run up to the elections to the state legislature in the western state of Gujarat, indicating that they work in tandem to persecute religious minorities, including Christians.

According to media reports, groups associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of numerous Hindu extremist groups and the chief persecutor of Christians in India, sought votes for the BJP chief minister, Narendra Modi, to strengthen “Hindu forces” in the state. Voting for the 182-member assembly in Gujarat ended on December 16.

For instance, an elusive but overtly militant group, “Hindu Brotherhood – Kashmiri Hindu Liberation Army” (HB-KHLA), appealed for votes saying Modi’s victory could be a means to “Hinduize politics and militarize Hindus.”

“Don’t let your children ask you, ‘When you had a chance, why did you not establish Hindutva….because of you, we are at the mercy of radicals (read Muslims and Christians),'” said an email message sent en masse through a Google group by the HB-KHLA. ICC has a copy of the email.

Similarly, Ashok Singhal, the chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) told the media that his organization did not want the “model state” to fall into the hands of a party run by a “Christian foreigner” (referring to Congress party president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, a Roman Catholic by birth).

“The BJP is the symbol of Hindu forces,” he said.

The Dangs district of Gujarat is of particular interest to the VHP because it is dominated by tribal people where close to 30 percent of the population is estimated to be Christian. However, at the state-level, Christians comprise less than one percent of the total population, which is more than 50 million.

According to analysts, the RSS cadre helps the BJP, its political wing, to win elections by raising issues that divide communities along religious lines. Having come to power, the BJP in turn helps the RSS cadre to indulge in violence with impunity.

Gujarat is seen as the BJP’s “laboratory of Hindutva” by rights activists.

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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.