10/05/2018, 13.05
INDIA
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Christians persecuted in India: 'All to win the 2019 elections'

The elections will take place between April and May. Pastors are accused (without evidence) of extorting forced conversions. The priests are depicted as descendants of the British colonizers. The media used to spread "fake news". Missionaries who work to emancipate Dalit and tribal become uncomfortable people because they subvert the social order of the caste system.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In order to win the political elections in 2019, Hindu nationalists are willing to persecute Christians, blaming them for forced conversions of Dalits and tribals and depicting them as descendants of the ancient British rulers, says Shibu Thomas, founder of the Persecution Relief network, is responsible for the defense of discriminated Christians in India.

Speaking to AsiaNews the activist says on the eve of the next elections, the group has seen a surge in violence against the faithful, pastors and churches. It does not matter, adds Thomas, that Christians "have contributed significantly to the development of India, through excellent schools, high schools, hospitals, orphanages and homes for the elderly". The goal of the radical groups is "to polarize society on confessional lines, to attack Christian and Muslim minorities and to make the Hindu majority happy".

In the last two years, Persecution Relief has counted at least 1,200 episodes of persecution. Thomas reports that the accusations are unfounded and are often addressed only to create a climate of mistrust of Christians. The most recent example is that of a Tamil Nadu pastor, Mohan C Lazarus, who was first accused of spreading speeches that foment hatred, only to be cleared of all charges. Another example is that of anti-conversion laws approved by several Indian states, which "only rarely lead to arrests or imprisonment. Laws only want to create a hostile and violent environment ".

The narrative that the state newspapers and the politicized media pass, continues, is that "Christianity is a foreign religion, brought to India by the British Empire. According to the persecutors, Christians have nothing to do with our country and proclaim that India is for Hindus, it is a Hindu nation and all those born here must be Hindu."

After having portrayed them as foreigners, the radicals try to block all the works of Christians by denouncing that they are financed from abroad and subjecting them to the control of bank accounts. Then in public speeches "they present us as anti-national, or enemies of the nation. They say that our commitment to the poor who live in the villages and tribal and more underdeveloped areas has the sole purpose of exploiting and pushing for forced conversion through the offer of money and work ". They also create "fake news" that spread through social media and make sensationalism their workhorse.

The threats do not spare anyone, not even people appreciated by everyone for their charitable work like Mother Teresa of Calcutta. "They even says she wanted to convert to Christianity". Likewise, extremist groups claim that schools, orphanages and high schools are being opened to encourage children to become Christians.

According to the Christian activist, behind all this misrepresentation is not only the goal of winning the next election, but also not to subvert the social order based on caste. "We all know - he says - that the castal division was abolished by the Constitution in 1950, but in reality it is still here. The practice of untouchability is widespread, the high castes still do everything to subjugate the poor, tribal and Dalit. Every attempt to change the social order is punished with a social boycott, ostracization and vindictive violence ". It is clear, he concludes, that "the missionaries, the sisters, the priests who live alongside the poor in the jungle, welcome the tribals with care and love, instruct them and emancipate them, they are not well seen by the brahmins, because they break the cycle of poverty and the tyranny of caste ".

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