INDIA: Kashmir churches relieved at ‘tough action’ against Quran protests
“We are thankful to the government for protecting our people and centers with determination”
By Anto Akkara
09/23/2010 India (Episcopal Life Online)- Church leaders in charge of the tiny Christian community in India’s troubled Kashmir region have thanked the government for protecting them during recent violent protests.
More than 25 protesters were killed and many more injured when security forces fired on mobs venting their anger on scattered Christian centers in Kashmir following reports that there had been a desecration of the Quran in the United States.
“We are thankful to the government for protecting our people and centers with determination,” said Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, who heads the Church of North India’s Amritsar diocese that covers Kashmir.
The attacks on Christian targets followed reports by an Iranian television channel that there had been a desecration of the Quran in the United States by some protesters to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks there that killed thousands of people.
Eighteen protesters were killed on Sept. 13 after police opened fire in various parts of Kashmir when mobs tried to storm churches, Christian schools and hospitals.
“Perhaps, vested interests were trying to capitalize on the Quran desecration for their political gain. But the people realized the government would not tolerate attacks on the minority Christians,” explained Elampassery.
About 5,000 Christians live among the Muslim majority in the Kashmir valley, which is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.