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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Christians persecuted an unnecessary propaganda unleashed internationally: Indian Bishop

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As an Indian Christian, I have always advocated that claims of the ‘Christian’ community being persecuted in India are mostly exaggerated and play into a larger game plan to cover up the growing menace of forceful, coercive, and allurement-based conversion in India.

But the plan of crying ‘Christians in danger’ or ‘Narendra Modi is blind to the atrocities on Christians’ is an even more sinister intent of the international lobby than just converting indigenous people of India to Christianity or Islam, it is an effort to alter the civilizational existence of India and its indigenous belief system of Sanatan Dharma.

Indian law does not restrict an individual to convert to another religion willfully without force, coercion, or allurement. People objecting to willful conversions are extremists in their mindset just as the evangelicals who endeavor to convert people by providing education, healthcare, jobs, and at most times, money.

Now even senior leaders of the Christian Churches in India have started to call out the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ over the claims of Christians being persecuted in India.

Earlier this week, the Bishop Geevarghese Mar Yulios of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala termed the claims of the Christian community being persecuted in India to be ‘unnecessary propaganda’ unleashed internationally by vested interests and that it amounted to insulting a great nation.

“I used to get calls from abroad asking what is happening there (in India)…whether people are being killed, and so on. Of course, India is a big country. There may be some resentments here and there. It should be dealt with legally. Protests also should be staged if required,” he told media in Thrissur.

He also pointed out an example of a protest held against the harassment of nuns while he had served in Gujarat some time ago. The bishop said it was proved later that the accused were those who had intruded into India using fake ID cards.”When they were caught (by the investigators), they were not VHP activists or such others.”

The Union government on Thursday debunked allegations of targeted attacks against Christians in India. It informed the Supreme Court that less than a third of the incidents alleged by some Christian groups and individuals were found to be true.

While the petitioners in the Supreme Court claimed that 2021-2022 witnessed as many as 495 incidents of targeted attacks against Christians across eight states, the Centre said that only 155 incidents warranted registration of first information reports (FIRs).

Citing the records furnished by the states of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha that allegedly had the highest number of such incidents, the central government said that there were no reports regarding 263 out of 495 incidents.

“Further, out of 232 incidents which have been reported to the concerned state governments, the matters were resolved in 73 incidents amicably with mutual agreement between both the parties. These 73 incidents were related to land disputes, family dispute, superstitious practices, violations of Covid-19 guidelines, and other trivial issues. FIR/Non-FIR complaints were registered in the remaining 155 cases,” stated the compliance affidavit filed by the Centre.

According to the Centre’s affidavit, 44 FIRs out of 70 reported incidents were registered in Uttar Pradesh; 31 FIRs out of 34 reported incidents were lodged in Karnataka; 24 FIRs out of 36 reported incidents were registered in Chhattisgarh and 22 FIRs out of 26 reported incidents were lodged in Madhya Pradesh.

The Centre said that the information furnished by the state governments makes it clear that the petitioners have exaggerated the number of incidents. “Many incidents alleged as Christian persecution have been either false or wrongly projected. It is submitted that many trivial disputes between two parties are likely to have been given religious color. Factual check and the verification reports reveal that even family feuds and private land disputes being shown as communal targeting,” the affidavit told the Supreme Court.

It was pointed out in the Supreme Court through the affidavit filed by the Centre that in one case, “in relation to an incident in the district Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, the Counsel for the petitioner(s) in their report, has claimed that the police barged in and disrupted the prayer of pastor Prem Singh and warned the pastor to discontinue their services as well as detained the pastor. However, the verification report of the government of Uttar Pradesh reveals that there is a land dispute between pastor Prem Singh and a local resident, named Vijay Kumar. Police action in the matter was projected as persecution of Christians. The matter was deliberately given religious color.”

The affidavit further added that in reference to ‘Christians Under Attack in India’ — a fact-finding report prepared by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), the UCF, and United Against Hate (UAH), the verification reports received from concerned state governments thereof reveals that many allegations and observations made in the report were found to be unfounded and the majority of the incidents quoted either were false or deliberately exaggerated, and uncorroborated. “The incidents, quoted here, from the UCF, PR (Persecution Relief), and EFI/ RLC’s (Evangelical Fellowship of India- Religious Liberty Commissions) reports were based on the alleged calls on their helpline and social media sites and the said organization have no mechanism to corroborate the incidents reported to them over the helpline or their websites.”

After hearing submissions, the bench also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, noted that the counsel for petitioners says MHA’s affidavit was received last night and time should be granted to the petitioners to file a response if needed, and listed the matter for further hearing after three weeks. The petition has been filed by Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado and others.

The MHA’s affidavit said that it is evident from the information furnished by the concerned state governments that the counsel for the petitioners has exaggerated the number of incidents and many incidents alleged as Christian persecution in the report of the counsel for the petitioners may have been either false or wrongly projected.

Religious conflict is not unique to India. It happens in most parts of the world. Unfortunately, it appears that while there might be some genuine cases of religious conflict that must be addressed by the laws of the land firmly and strictly; most it seems are an exaggeration to create an impression that India and its majority population of Hindus are unleashing unwarranted atrocities on Christians.

I believe that every Christian who is a victim of a religious hate crime must get justice under the laws of India but a Christian who falls prey to propaganda and works to portray India in questionable light must face the law for the lies spread.

In three weeks, SC will have its view on the issue. Let the truth prevail.

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