Christians voice concern over Narmada Kumbh festival

February 8th, 2011 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Feb 8 (IANS) Christian community leaders Tuesday voiced concern over the Narmada Kumbh festival in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district following media reports that the massive gathering aims to “return” tribal Christians to Hinduism. The leaders have approached the high court and the chief minister seeking protection to their life.

The annual Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Social Fair of Mother Narmada) is to be held Feb 10-12 in the tribal-dominated district on the banks of river Narmada.

“We are worried about our safety and security. Our attempt to get adequate protection from the state government received a very cool response,” Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur said.

Father Anand Muttungal, spokesperson of the Catholic Church in the state, also met Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and sought security for the community.

Later, he also held a press conference.

Although Christians do not oppose such festivals, media reports that the festival aims to “return” tribal Christians to Hinduism have created fear among the community, he said.

Some 2.5 million people from all over India are expected to attend the festival.

Bishop Almeida said: “We have approached Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking direction to the government to protect us.”

Senior police official C.V. Muni Raju said the police were keeping a close watch on the developments in the area.

“No one will be allowed to take law into their hands and no one needs to be afraid of anything,” he said.

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