Not In Our Name! Indian Christians Uniting Against Government's Treatment of Minorities

Every international and national human rights body has indicted India for its treatment of religious minorities, specially Muslims and Christians.
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Representational Image Courtesy- Scroll,in

New Delhi- In a significant development, over 3000 Indian Christians from various walks of life, including politicians, retired bureaucrats, and religious leaders, came together to express their disapproval of the government's treatment of the minorities , especially Christian community in the country. In a petition titled "Not In Our Name," sent to the President, Prime minister, Chief Justice of India and other dignitaries, the community members vehemently dissent the ongoing attacks and harassment faced by Christians since 2014, especially in BJP-ruled states.

The petition has been initiated by renowned Human rights and Christian activists Dr John Dayal, Dr. Prakash Louis SJ and Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ.

Prominent signatories include Derek O'Brien (MP, All India Trinamool Congress), M.G. Devashayam (Retired IAS), John Shilsi (Retired IPS), and various religious leaders, activists, and professionals from diverse fields.

It is noteworthy that on December 25, in a special Christmas gathering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted members of the Christian community at his official residence, where he engaged in an interactive session, expressing warm wishes for Christmas and acknowledging the significance of the occasion. He reminisced about his longstanding relations with the Christian community, dating back to his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He highlighted the frequent meetings he had held with Christian leaders, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and collaboration.

While the Christian representatives expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister during the event, the joint statement clarifies that their thanks were not representative of the entire Christian community. It alleges that the government has consistently disregarded its constitutional mandate, affecting minorities, Adivasis, Dalits, backward castes, farmers, laborers, migrants, and others.

The statement emphasizes the significant contributions made by Christians to the nation, citing their roles in the freedom struggle, the Constituent Assembly, and various sectors such as education, healthcare, social work, culture, and politics. However, it also points out a disturbing trend of attacks, vilification, and denial of basic rights to Christians in recent years.

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Continuous Attacks in Manipur: Signatories Express Alarm Over Unabated Violence Against Christians

The signatories who endorsed the petition, express dissenting opinion stating that, since May 3, the Christians of Manipur have been subjet to constant attacks which still continues unabated and with apparent approval from the BJP Governments both in the State and at the Centre. "In the wake of all this, it is ironic that the Prime Minister hosted around 100 Christian representatives of different denominations on Christmas morning for a celebration. While it is certainly within his right as Prime Minister to host a reception for whomsoever he wishes one naturally would question the intention of this reception when he has not condemned a single attack on the Christians, under his Prime Ministership. Interestingly, while he praised Jesus Christ and waxed eloquent about the services of the Christian community, he did not share remorse or empathy for the situation of the Christians in the country today Those invited to the Christmas reception were a select group of Christians. While the invitation was from the Prime Minister, here was an opportunity for them to courteously decline the invite in the light of what has been happening to the Christians in Manipur and elsewhere." read the statement.

The petition asserts the commitment of Indian Christians, along with conscious and committed citizens, to protect and promote the Constitution, Country, and Citizens of India. It criticizes the silence of the Christian representatives for not upholding the values enshrined in the Constitution of India.

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The Mooknayak spoke to Dr John Dayal, a renowned human rights and Christian political activist. He is a member of the National Integration Council of India, Secretary-General of the All India Christian Council and a past president of the All India Catholic Union.

The activist highlighted the grim start to the year, where the Christian community faced adversity with the burning of churches and loss of lives in the valley of Imphal, Manipur. Throughout the year, the Christian community, including Bishops and clergy, had been urging the Prime Minister to visit Manipur—a region marred by what Dayal described as the most significant communal crimes and human tragedy since Gujarat 2002 and Kandhamal, Orissa 2008.

Expressing disappointment, Dayal noted the absence of the Prime Minister's visit to Manipur, leaving the responsibility to the Home Minister and the state's Chief Minister. He raised concerns about the handling of the situation, accusing the Chief Minister of being casual in addressing what some allege to be a genocide, and possibly complicit by allegedly patronizing criminal private militias.

He said "it is not about Manipur alone. The persecution of the community is rampant, hate towards it from the highest quarters of nationalist religious leadership as deep as it can be. The government seems keen to starve it out of existence by withdrawing the FCRAs (permits for receiving international donations) of a vast number of churches and its NGOs, and using the investigating agencies against Cardinals and Bishops, Pastors and lay people. In UP for instance, nearly 100 pastors and even ordinary men and women are in jail under charges of illegal conversions when all they were doing was celebrating birthdays or conducting Sunday prayers.

" The United Christian forum has in its annual report said there are two incidents of persecution a day in the country" he said. Apart from persecution, including arrests, the crisis of schools and other institutions, the massive social issue of the Dalit Christians remains.

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