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ICC Note:

A Christian leader in India’s Madhya Pradesh state has called for protection of his community following a torch-lit march by Hindu radicals. According to the leader, the Hindu radicals are on a campaign to harass Christians by claiming they are engaging in forced conversions. The radicals have claimed they will implement a strike against Christians if the government does not close down Christian institutions providing aid to the poor in the area. Radicals often falsely accuse Christians of engaging in forced conversions as a way to harass leaders and institutions. Will the Indian government side with the Christians or the radicals? 

11/19/2017 India (The Catholic Register) – A Catholic bishop has sought protection for the Christian community in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh after Hindu nationalists marched through the streets waving burning torches and denouncing missionaries.

The marchers on Nov. 10 accused Sagar district authorities of not acting upon complaints they filed against missionaries for violating a law that restricts religious conversions. They said if the administration failed to act within two weeks, they would start an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic-run orphanage in the area. reported the trouble in Sagar started in September after government officials evicted a Catholic priest working in the orphanage and closed a 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title. Church leaders say the government action was instigated by Hindu groups.

The leaders of the fundamentalist religious awakening co-ordination committee, which organized the march, told media that the church’s social services and work in education and health care are all a facade to convert gullible people to Christianity.

The protesters said they were working with the government for a national law against religious conversions and to check missionary activities. Madhya Pradesh and five other Indian states already have laws that make religious conversion through allurement and force illegal.

“We are under tremendous pressure,” said Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar, who submitted a memorandum to district officials and the state chief minister and governor seeking their intervention for the protection of Christians. reported the bishop wanted the administration to take immediate steps to end this “false and malicious campaign” in the media that projects Christians as “out to convert Hindus, violating laws.”

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