Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Christian shrine desecrated in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

Jabalpur (AsiaNews) - In an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Gerald Almeida, Bishop of Jabalpur in the state of Madya Pradesh (central India), said that anti - Christian activities by Hindu fundamentalists are on the rise and reaching areas hitherto spared such as his own diocese.

The fundamentalists' latest act of cowardly violence took place last Sunday, June 12, when "around midnight a bunch of miscreants entered the shrine of the Infant Jesus, which is inside the compound of the Holy Trinity Church, and desecrated it," Bishop Almeida said.

The mostly young attackers threw rotten eggs and blue coloured water against the shrine. When the guard saw them, they fled.

"Except for a few incidents, the fundamentalists had spared the area," he explained.

So far, no one has been arrested, but "[w]e have lodged a complaint with the police," the Bishop added. "[We] have notified the state authorities and asked for police protection from the administration."

The incident comes at a time when Christians are increasingly concerned about the sectarian violence visited upon them in states run by the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) like Madya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Bishop Almeida has urged the clergy and the religious to appease the resentment among local Christians and said that his response to this violence will be chain-fasting throughout the diocese of Jabalpur.

"We shall pray that God may transform the minds and hearts of these people who are attacking Christians," he stressed.

The BJP supports a fundamentalist version of Hinduism and is India's main opposition party. (NC)