A new report issued in India noted that 2,141 Christians there suffered aggression, attacks and persecution in 2011, not counting their families, relatives and friends, and indirect victims. It is expected that the persecution by Hindu extremist groups, will grow in 2012. This is the scenario outlined by the new 2011 Report on Persecution in India, published today by the "Catholic-Secular Forum" (CSF), an ecumenical organization founded by Indian Catholics, supported by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay. The Report paints a gloomy picture in which the radical Hindu anti-Christian violence is defined as "a virus that infects society". Persecution in fact "has become more widespread, and covers almost all the states in the country".
A minimum of 1,000 Christian families have been affected by these attacks: the Report denounces "a premeditated campaign" against weak targets and, given the warnings already received, an increase is expected in 2012. The text highlights 250 of the most serious crimes and raises important issues about freedom of faith, abuse of human rights and constitutional rights. According to the CSF, the episodes are only counted as uncovered and reported by the media: if one adds those not registered the total number could triple.
The Report classifies Karnataka as a "rogue state" and places at the top of the list for episodes of persecution. In Karnataka, in southern India, there were over 1,000 attacks on Christians in 2011, "an average of 3-5 attacks per day". Other states mentioned are Orissa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
The main victims are children and women. Children, "unarmed observers of crimes", suffer effects such as deprivation of basic education, malnutrition, life in refugee camps, fear and financial insecurity, abuse and child labor. Also vulnerable women: nuns, sisters, wives or daughters of pastors or community leaders are targeted and undergo rapes and sexual harassment.
Judge Michael F. Saldanha, commenting on the Report, said that "the police, the bureaucracy and the judiciary give the impression that they have abdicated their duty". He asked that the Indian nation and the world to become engaged with the situation of Christians in his country.
According to Professor. Ram Puniyani, a scholar of Hindu extremist groups, "affiliates of Hindutva (the ideology of Hinduism, ed) have now clearly shifted their attention to Christians, especially tribal and Adivasi communities, as they are easy targets, with little fear of retaliation". According to Hindu extremist groups, the Christian missionaries converted by force, fraud and seduction, therefore "are a threat to Hinduism". This theory, said Professor Puniyani, is belied by the facts, since the percentage of Christians in India has declined, they were 2.60% of the population in 1972, 2.44% in 1981, 2.30% in 2001.
Source: Fides and agencies.