Indian Christians seek protection from Hindu nationalist government

In response to growing violence and an increasing sense of insecurity, Christians in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, have held a protest march and demanded protection from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Archbishop Dr Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who led the march, accused the BJP government of sidelining Christians and making religious minorities victims of a “sustained malicious campaign”.

“We have been pushed to a corner with the state government doing virtually nothing to protect our constitutional rights for a free and peaceful life,” the Archbishop was quoted as saying by UCA News.

Christians who form less than one per cent of the state’s 55 million people have recorded hundreds of attacks in the past seven years.

In the latest incident, a young pastor was killed as Hindu extremists wielding sticks attacked a Christian prayer meeting.

Dr Cornelio said Christians have faced continuous attacks since the BJP came to power in December 2003.

He also accused the police of working hand in glove with fanatic groups.

“The police often side with them and send our people to jail,” he said. "We are also citizens of this country with equal rights to lead a dignified and peaceful life.”

At a press conference earlier, Dr Cornelio said the inaction of the government had created a sense of insecurity among Christians and added police stood mere spectator without taking any action despite several complaints.

The Archbishop also lamented that despite many schemes like scholarship plan, self-employment plan and others, Christians have not been benefited from any of those.