09/20/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh state have appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind for protection against radical Hindu nationalists. This appeal comes as Christians from the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh face threats of church demolition from both radicals and local authorities.
“Hindu activists mostly from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have set a deadline to demolish our churches on September 26, alleging they are illegal structures,” Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Shalom Church told UCAN. “We handed over a memorandum to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind through the district collector on September 17 seeking his urgent intervention to ensure the safety and security of the indigenous Christians.”
UCAN reports the threats against Christians and their places of worship in the Jhabua district began in late-August when the district additional superintendent of police issued instructions to his officers to assist the VHP in closing allegedly illegal Christian prayer halls and stop illegal religious conversions. On September 13, the district revenue officer directed Christian leaders to present themselves before him to explain the nature of their religious activities before September 22.
These official actions follow threats made by VHP who have threatened open violence against the district’s Christians unless local authorities intervened. The radical Hindu nationalists set a deadline of September 26 for the local government to act against the Christian community.
Bishop Muniya told UCAN that local authorities were siding with the radicals. Through official actions, these authorities are now harassing Christians who only make up 4% of the district’s total population.
“Christians are peace-loving,” Father Maria Stephan, public relations officer for the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh told UCAN. “We are seeking judicial remedies to ensure peach and harmony in our society.”
“Certain individuals and organizations with right-wing Hindu ideologies have begun openly threatening Christians with the demolition of their churches,” Father Stephan continued. “It is a very dangerous trend.”
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