'Nazi' warning on India church burnings from Catholic bishop

Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside a church in New Delhi, February 5, 2015.Reuters

An Indian bishop has compared Hindu radicals who attack churches to 'Nazis' at a rally in Mumbai.

Addressing a crowd of nearly 1,500 at a rally organised by the Bombay Catholic Sabha and Indian Christian Voice, auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Gracias of the Bombay Archdiocese referred to the spate of attacks on churches and the disruption of meetings and said that the BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had failed to address the problem.

According to The Indian Express, Gracias said: "On the surface, such attacks look like a campaign against a small, peace-loving minority that would scarcely pose a threat to anyone. Are these isolated incidents or are they part of a systematic plan? Today, it is an attack on Christians, a soft target, but will it stop there? Or will it move soon to other targets? The Nazis had followed the same tactics — the isolated attacks that moved on to another attack. We will soon see that happening here. There is an attempt to make India a homogenous unit — the home of one religion."

He said that government silence had encouraged the attackers: "Is the silence of the government coincidental or deliberate? Is not this silence a strategy or studied silence indicating consent with what is happening? If these people are continuing to attack with impunity, it is because the government is silent."

Muslim speakers also backed the protest.

Religious tensions have risen in India following the election of the religious nationalist BJP party to power. Aggressive conversion or 'ghar wapsi' campaigns have been mounted by Hindu groups targeting low-caste Christians and Muslims, with hundreds 'converted' at a time.

Campaigners have warned of the threat to India's secular constitution from the activities of hard-line Hindus. They also come with a political cost: observers fear that Prime Minister Modi's economic reforms could be derailed because of his need to placate his core religious supporters.

The BJP has been comprehensively routed in the Delhi state elections in a huge setback for Mr Modi, with a stunning victory for Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which has fought on an anti-corruption platform.