There is much sorrow in the Christian community in India due to the new episodes of violence and damages done to the community. A Christian church in Kerala, Southern India, was completely burned down. This occurred on March23 but has only now been recounted by local sources. The church of St Mary, part of the Orthodox Church of Syro-Malankara rite in Poddivatuvialla, was set on fire by unknown persons that the police are trying to identify. The local faithful have expressed bitterness and disappointment, especially since Kerala is a state where Christians make up about 20% of the population, and the community is very visible, appreciated and deeply rooted in society. So violent actions by extremist Hindu groups are very rare.
Instead, an episode attributed to a transgression by Hindu extremist groups has occurred in recent days in the Diocese of Jhabua (in Madhya Pradesh, central India), where some militants stopped a vehicle carrying the statues for the Stations of the Cross to a Catholic parish in Jhapadra, and they destroyed the statues. The material damage amounted to at least $ 500, but the local Church emphasizes the spiritual harm and violence, saying that they had alerted the police.
In another state, Rajasthan (Northern India), the police arrested two people suspected of violence against Pastor Harish Ninama, who in February had been forced to walk naked over 5 kilometres on the main street of the city, derided by some young Hindu extremists on a motorcycle who abused, stripped and beat him.
Sources in India comment to Fides: “These incidents show that Hindu extremism is present, has spread everywhere and is a problem which must be taken seriously. Christians, like other Indian citizens, should be left in peace to enjoy their rights and full religious freedom.”