By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Indian police detained at least 4,000 Christians from across the country in the largest such operation in a decade, a major human rights group and Indian Christian leaders said Wednesday, May 30.
International Christian Concern (ICC) with website www.persecution.org, which supports actions against Christian persecution, said the arrests took place in the capital New Delhi on Tuesday, May 29, during a protest against the federal governmentâ€™s alleged silence over "increasing attacks" carried out by Hindu militants against Christians.
The rally, â€œStop Violence on Christians,â€ was held at Jantar Mantar near Parliament, and included a variety of well-known Indian Christian leaders, including All India Christian Council (AICC) President Joseph Dâ€™souza and that advocacy group's Secretary General John Dayal, Bishop Karam Masih of the Church of North India and principal of Mount Carmel School
in Delhi V.K. Williams.
In a statement the leaders warned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that "his silence could lead to killing of innocent people at the hands of Hindu extremists."
ICC, which investigates reports of persecution of Christians, told BosNewsLife that police "rounded up and detained about 4,000 participants" in the rally, which was attended by an stimated 5,000 people.
The crowd reportedly left Parliament Street police station in the afternoon after an official announced there was not enough room in the jails to keep such a huge number of people.
â€œThis was the first time since November 1997 that such large numbers of Christians have been arrested in the Parliament Street police station," ICC quoted Dayal as saying.
"It was incredible to see Catholic nuns, Protestant pastors, civil society activists and more singing Christian songs of liberation within the police station,â€ added Dayal, who is also a member of the National Integration Council of the Government of India.
ICC said that Christians from several states, including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, participated in Tuesday's rally, shouting slogans, urging the government to â€œwake up and stop atrocities on Christiansâ€.
Rev. Madhu Chandra, regional secretary of the AICC reportedly said that in 2006 his group recorded at least one anti-Christian attack every three days, â€œbut this rose to one attack every alternate day during the first four months of this year.â€
A majority of anti-Christian attacks are carried out by Hindu groups associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps or RSS), which is seen as the ideological mentor of the influential Bharatiya Janata Party. Christian organizations estimate that over 100 anti-Christian attacks have taken place this year alone, ICC said.
The rally also saw victims of communal violence, including Jaipur pastor Walter Masih, who was seen walking up to the stage limping due to an injury sustained in an apparent attack.
"We have asked authorities to publicly condemn the attacks on peace-loving Indian Christians. We have appealed to the chief ministers and police administration of various states besides writing open letters to the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, but we have not received any response from any of these,â€ Dayal said in a statement released by ICC.
Christian Dalits are often the target of attacks. Dalits are seen as the 'lowest caste' in India's ancient system of Hinduism, and it is there where Christianity has been spreading, church watchers say. Yet, Christians still comprise less than 3 percent of India's mainly Hindu population of roughly 1.1 billion people. (With BosNewsLife Research).
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