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India militants credit Reuters.JPG
INA Photo Agency/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect
India militants credit Reuters.JPG
INA Photo Agency/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect
World News

'You can't surrender to lawless mobs': Christmas services banned in India amid militant attacks

by Heather Preston

Police in India have banned Christians from holding Christmas services as threats of violence from Hindu militants continue to increase.

Authorities in the southwest state of Karnataka have clamped down on Christmas meetings in churches, halls and homes as Hindu radicals have disrupted Christian meetings according to Release International.

Charity partner, Archbishop Joseph D'souza says extremists have "crossed a red-line by walking into Christian worship and conducting their own services." 

"We have not seen anything like this before. They are interrupting Christian services with their Hindu chants. And these extremists are not being arrested," he added.

Last week Premier reported on a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh State that was targeted by over 300 Hindu nationalists. The attack left many high school students traumatised as they were due to sit exams.

Release International has raised concerns over an increased intolerance towards Christians in recent years as extremist groups gain more power.

Spokesperson Andrew Boyd tells Premier Hindu militants have been attacking and killing Christians there for "quite some time."

"There's a movement in India called Hindutva, which is a radical right wing movement, which is very, very intolerant to anything other than Hinduism.

"It claims that if you are Indian, you need to be a Hindu and absolutely nothing else will be tolerated.

"That's actually gained ground since the election of the nationalist BJP to government and President Prime Minister Modi was re-elected," he said.

Release International is calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protect India's Christian minorities and their right to freedom of religion and belief.

"The police should be protecting the Christians not preventing them from meeting", Boyd said "India's constitution guarantees religious freedom, if you have extremists threatening violence that violence needs to be stopped."

"You can't simply surrender the ground to lawless mobs. If you do that, people will get killed and violence will increase."

A growing number of anti-conversion laws are being passed across India, which Boyd says is very worrying as they go against the Indian Constitution and put more Christians at risk of persecution.

"It is vital that the freedom of faith is guaranteed in the world's largest democracy," he added.

Release International is encouraging Christians to follow Jesus' call to "watch and pray" for those who are unable to worship freely and to lift them to the Lord in prayer.

 

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