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UN help sought to protect Indian Christians 

By Santosh Digal

New Delhi: A group of civil society groups has urged the United Nations (UN) to direct the Indian government to protect life, personal security and places of religious worship of Christians in the country.

In 18-page report entitled “Universal Periodic Review India: Minorities on the Margins: Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Christian Community in India” was submitted by Christian Collective (A National Solidarity of the Indian Christian Community for Peace and Harmony) to UN last September.

This report is a joint NGO submission by the Christian Collective (A National Solidarity of the Indian Christian Community for Peace and Harmony), Franciscans International, VIVAT International, Congregations of St. Joseph, Pax Romana, Sisters of Charity Federation, Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries and other partners on the issue of freedom of religion or belief, related to the third cycle of Universal Periodic Review for India, scheduled to take place in April – May 2017.

The Christian Collective represents human rights, civil society and freedom of faith groups represented in India who have endorsed this report. As international partners, Franciscans International, VIVAT International, Congregations of St. Joseph, Pax Romana, Sisters of Charity Federation, Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries as well as other partners have been involved and consulted in the process and provide support and endorsement for the submission. This report is the culmination of consultations held in various parts of the country. This report focuses on the status of freedom of religion or belief with respect to the Christian community in India.

“We have submitted UPR report on Christian collective to UN Geneva. India is coming for review on May 4,” said Ajaya Kumar Singh, human rights activist.

The Christian Collective report was facilitated by Dr. John Dayal, senior journalist and human rights activist, and Singh.

The UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States

“The Indian government should be directed to ensure that the life, personal security and places of religious worship of the Christian community are protected from attacks, and attackers prosecuted under criminal law,” the report said in its recommendation.

The Indian government could be directed to ensure stringent action under criminal law against all those who deliver hate speech with the intention of inciting violence and hatred against the Christian community, the report said.

Direct the Indian government to consider enacting a law on communal violence that provides reparations and prosecutes perpetrators, in consultation with civil society.

According to the Census of India 2011, Hindus constitute 79.8% (966,257,353), Muslims 14.23% (172,245,158), Christians 2.3% (27,819,588), Sikhs 1.72% (20,833,116), Buddhists 0.7% (8,442,972), Jains 0.37% (4,451,753), and other religions including Parsis and Jews constitute 0.6% (7,937,734) of the 1,210,854,977 population in India.

Data shows that there has been no significant change in the proportion of the Christian community to total population in 2011, as compared to the previous Census of 2001. There is no official data for India’s many indigenous native religions that predate Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, or on the number of atheists and agnostics in India.

States with large Christian communities include Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Goa, Kerala, Jharkand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, although Christians live in almost all the states and union territories of India. The Christian community in India is not homogenous and its members owe allegiance to various religious denominations. Many members of tribal and indigenous communities, called adivasis, who were originally animists, thereafter converted to Christianity as did Dalits or, partially to escape from the clutches of the oppressive and discriminatory caste system under Hinduism. As a result, in the present context, the Christian population comprises of a large proportion of Dalit and tribal Christians.

The report deals with the present political context in India, inntersectional vulnerabilities and deprivations, status of tribal and dalit Christians, ban on consumption of beef and its consequences, status of Christian women, ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (home coming) and the enactment and implementation of anti-Christian conversion laws, and hate speech, violence against Christians and impunity.

For each of these section, the reports enlists series of recommedations, which are to be discussed in UPR.

Later UN would give directives to Indian Government to look into these issues. However, these recommendations are mere directives and not binding.

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7 Responses to UN help sought to protect Indian Christians

  1. Vincent Bagul

    I agree with the views expressed by Chhotebhai. The Christians enjoy much more freedom in India than many other countries. Some Christians are against the provisions of ‘Anti-conversion’ Act. But why do you oppose? Do you want to convert to some other faith from Christianity? No. Then let the persons who are aggrieved raise the issue? But Christians oppose the Anti-conversion law. It clearly indicates that Christians are after conversion of others to Christianity. Actually, it is ethically wrong to convert poor and illiterate persons to Christianity, because they are not able to defend themselves afterwards. Also, desire to convert others to our religion indicates that we consider ourselves ‘superior’ to them and think that ‘salvation’ is available only through Christianity. This is nothing but bigotry. I think we need to mend our ways.

  2. Kalappura Thomas

    It is easy to say that we can fight our own battles. This thought comes from our hearts because we believe in justice. But when justice is trampled by some elements with the knowledge of political parties having allegiance to communal forces no effective action is taken. What is forceful conversion? Why people are not given freedom to choose a Faith ? Why should a Citizen submit his desire to change his religion to the Divisional Revenue officer Is this not strange ? Pakistan wanted to harass Hindus and Christians through Blasphemy laws. Similarly India wants to harass Christians and Muslims through anti conversion laws. Is there any transparency or logic in all these acts and laws? Should a secular and democratic govt. think in terms of religion only always ,instead of leaving g it to human freedom ?

  3. A. S. Mathew

    Chhotebhai: How it can be ridiculous? Your certificate that India is safer for Christians than most countries is a pure paradox now. Can you bring the list of Democratic countries of the world where the Christians are less safer than in India?

    According various studies like the World Health Organization more than three years back, out of the 7.2 billion world population, 1.2 billion were living with $ 1.25.00/per day income, and 400 million of them were in India. There were thousands of humanitarian Organizations in India being operated by the Christians, and the funding of a vast percentage of them were stopped by the Government of India.

    One among them was the internationally known Organization called ” Compassion International” which was spending the largest amount $ 50 million/year in India feeding thousands of unwanted and hungry children. Have you ever walked through the mega cities of India and watched the hungry wandering children? I have done a few times, had been inside the slums of India, thus will talk with passion and authority about this subject.

    The U.S. Ambassador to India, members of the U.S. Foreign Relationship Committee etc have repeatedly warned India to change their action; but India has shown a cold blooded attitude towards their repeated reminder. One statement from Arun Jaitly was that conversion is taking place. Do you like to see these unwanted hungry children eating food, then singing and praying to God or wandering in the streets and exploited by the demonic people of the street? Even the undemocratic nations of the world will welcome with opened hands any charity offered by others to feed the hungry, but the current Government is fully dedicated to establish an Hindu theocracy in India upon the foundation of the tears of the crying and hungry people. These street children were taken to the Humanitarian centers operated by the Christians by the non-Christian police in many cases. I do openly challenge Arun Jaitly and his anti-conversion comrades to point out the number of terrorists came out of the Christian converted people in India! The converted people work and through the newly found peace and joy of life through JESUS CHRIST, will be productive citizens of India.

    The UN is fully aware of this turn of events taking place at the largest democracy in the world. The Christians of India has a root in India close to 2000 years now; but the Hindus migrating to the rich Christian nations of the world, they are migrants but they have all the freedom to worship God and nobody will bother them. In any country when politics is married to any religion, there is a great danger ahead of them. Now the Indian Government is married to Hinduism which is not a religion but a way of life, and trying to impose that way of life upon the nation which is causing too unbearable pain to the minorities; that will be addressed in front of the world.

  4. Vincent Bagul

    Similar zeal should be shown for empowerment of poor and disadvantaged Christians. Recently, the CBCI has published a document on Dalit Christians and has admitted that Dalit Christians face discrimination and untouchability within the community and that they have lagged far behind in education. Protect and uplift them, too, and take up their case to the UN.

  5. Chhotebhai

    This is ridiculous. India is far safer for Christians than most countries. Yes we do have our problems but they are not insurmountable. We can fight our own battles. There is no need to internationalise the issue by appealing to the UN which in any case is a toothless tiger.
    Earlier some of these signatories masquerading as rights activists even went to the USA with a similar sob story

  6. A. S. Mathew

    Finally, the double actor PM Modi while holding the hands of the Bishops but never speak a word to his comrades to stop the attacks against the Christians will be exposed to the whole world.

    The Muslims of India, 177 million, the second largest Muslim population of the world will have to file a petition with the UN. They have the backing of the Muslim nations of the world.

    The BJP//RSS leaders are in a fantasy world that nobody is watching the calculated attacks upon the minorities of India.

    • Joseph C.G

      In the remote areas of North India, Christians who are very few in number live in fear due to attacks on the Christians and Muslims. The allegations of so called conversions by allurements are baseless accusations. No human being can be converted by allurements or force in modern times. The number Christians in India shows that such accusations are not true. There is no increase in their number for many years and even centuries as Christianity exists in India from the first century itself. Good things have to be shared freely. Good News must be preached for the good of others. Our constitution gives such freedom to the citizens of India.

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