Source: One News Now
As elections approach in Madhya Pradesh state, Christian leaders say their community is increasingly targeted as part of an effort by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to consolidate Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) votes.
“This year alone, since January we have recorded 35 major incidents of atrocities against the Christian community,” Father Anand Muttungal, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Madhya Pradesh, told Compass.
“When we talk of major incidents, we do not count minor incidents like cases of harassment, beatings, attacks on church halls and filing false cases against Christian workers.”
Fr. Anand Muttungal added that “quite alarming” major incidents of violence have numbered more than 150 since the BJP came to power in the state in 2003.
With elections scheduled for December, the Hindu extremist BJP already has begun saber-rattling against the Christian community, drawing sharp reactions from church leaders.
On June 22, Fr. Anand Muttungal sent a legal notice to the state president of the youth wing of the BJP, Vishwas Sarang, asking him to apologize for “irresponsible comments” that missionaries were engaging in large-scale conversion activities in Madhya Pradesh. Sarang’s comments triggered threats and demonstrations against area Christians.
Sarang reportedly had issued the comments at a press conference in Indore, a commercial hub close to Bhopal, the state capital. There Archbishop Leo Cornelio reportedly said the comments could “tarnish the good image of the church.”
Indira Iyengar, a former member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minority Commission, agreed that atrocities against Christians have escalated since the BJP came into power in the state in December 2003.
“As elections draw closer,” she told Compass, “the BJP, which is used to segregating masses on religious lines and attacking minorities, even physically, will do so even more and would like to show Hindus that they are the only saviors of Hinduism, and that if they do not protect the Hindus, they will all become Christians or Muslims.”