Protest in Delhi over violence against Christians

September 26th, 2008 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) A collage of faces - young students, leaders of religious minorities, Christian priests, nuns and others - gathered at the Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital Friday to protest the violence against the Christian community in Orissa and other parts of the country.Holding banners reading “Prosecute vandalists and communal elements” and “Violence against Christians is violation of human rights”, the protesters raised their voices against the vandalisation of churches and attacks on Christians in Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Thursday demanded immediate deployment of paramilitary forces in sensitive areas of Karnataka and sought stringent action against Bajrang Dal activists involved in attacks on churches in the state.

In its report to the Prime Minister’s Office, the minorities panel requested the central government to ensure that protection is immediately given to vulnerable members of the Christian community.

Over two dozen churches have been attacked in Karnataka over the past week. This follows similar clashes in Orissa in which at least 25 people died after the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader.

“Whatever is happening in Orissa or Karnataka is not right and we are here to oppose that. Violence against innocent people because of their faith is un-religious,” said Akhumla Kinimi, a student of the Jesus and Mary college, who took part in the protest.

Standing with their colourful umbrellas in the scorching heat, many other college students said that a spate of such incidents was an indication of the rising intolerance in the society.

“So far,e five states have been engulfed in the violence against Christians - Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and even Delhi, since a church was attacked in Peeragadhi last week,” Dominic Emanuel, a Christian priest, told IANS.

With support from religious leaders like Shankaracharya Omkarnandji Maharaj of Prayag peeth, Maulana Nomai of Jamiate-Ulema-e-Hind and Granthi Jagtap Singh Jagiana, the protesters stressed that such cases of violence are an attempt to polarise the Indian society.

“Such incidents against religious minorities, be it Christians, Muslims or Sikhs, are a threat to the secular fabric of India. A memorandum had already been submitted to the prime minister to put an end to all this violence and we will submit another one with this regard,” Emanuel added.

The sit-in protest will culminate at Rajghat Oct 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary which has been declared World Non-Violence day.

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