ICC Note: Christian leaders for India’s Jharkhand state have appealed to the federal government to stop Christians from being treated like terrorists by their own state government. Recently, the Jharkhand state government open investigations into 88 Christian institutions led by the Anti-Terrorist Squad. Christian leaders claim this is being done in bad faith to harass their minority community.
07/30/2018 India (UCAN) – All nine Catholic bishops of India’s northeastern Jharkhand state have sought federal intervention to stop Christians being treated like terrorists as part of alleged state government harassment.
The bishops told governor Draupadi Murmu, who is the representative of the Indian president, that the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had used its Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to probe Christian institutions.
On July 30, three days after meeting Murmu, they also sent a memorandum to federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking his assistance on the issue.
“We are now treated as terrorists and officials of the ATS are after us as if we are involved in terrorist activities,” Auxiliary Bishop Telesphore Bilung of Ranchi, who organized the meeting, told ucanews.com.
He said for the past few months, police had been arresting church people on trumped-up charges and investigators had raided Christian groups in “clear state-sponsored harassment.”
In some cases, the ATS served notices on Christian institutions ordering them to produce financial details within 24-hours, the bishop said.
State police spokesperson R. K. Mallick termed the claims of the Christian leaders as “absurd”.
The inquiries were being conducted on orders of the federal home ministry to investigate 88 Christian non-governmental agencies in the state, he told media representatives.
The head of the ATS and the head of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) is the same person.
“Notices may have been issued by him on ATS letterhead, but it is the CID that is inquiring,” Mallick said.
The federal order for investigations came following allegations from the state government and influential Hindus groups that Christian institutions were diverting funds for the purpose of securing religious conversions in violation of a state law.
It was also claimed that funds were being used to support the Pathalgadi tribal movement that seeks greater autonomy from both the federal and state governments.
Christians had been targeted for their faith and faced violent attacks, false accusations and arbitrary actions by various government functionaries, said the memorandum to the federal home minister.
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