//March to protest Christian bashing in Rajasthan

March to protest Christian bashing in Rajasthan


March 20, 2006, Jaipur (ICNS) — Christian leaders and human rights groups in Rajasthan will march silently through the state capital on March 21 protesting attacks and harassment Christians face from radical Hindu groups.

The miniscule Christian community in the BJP-ruled state witnessed a series of attack on their people and property in the past one year. In February alone there were at least five cases of attacks, Christian leaders said.

According to Bishop Collin C. Theodore, the Church of North India bishop, the state administration has failed to protect the life and property of Christian in the state.

Some 300 Christian leaders of all denominations met on March 2 at Jaipur and decided to have a protest march. Later, human rights groups and secular and dalit organizations in the state decided to join the march.

The protest march comes in the wake of the arrest of Bishop Samuel Thomas, chairperson of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) on March 16 near Delhi by Rajasthan police.

Police have been searching for him and his father Archbishop M. A. Thomas in connection with a case of igniting communal passion through a book. The book was distributed through EMI outlets.

The controversial a book, Haqeeqat (Reality) was written by M.G. Mathew, a Protestant. Hindu groups say it contains derogatory references to Hindu gods and some Hindu preachers and holy rivers.

The Christian leaders were trying for anticipatory bail without success. However, Archbishop Thomas is not yet arrested.

Several Christian leaders say the book-case is only an excuse to harass Christians. The state’s BJP government remains inactive to stop violence against Christians.

EMI founder Thomas and his son have faced several attacks in the past. Such events include an incident in which some people tried to douse the EMI compound in Kota with petrol and set it on fire.

Catholic nuns, priests and church property were attacked in the state’s tribal-dominated districts of Banswara, Dungarpur and Udaipur last year.