INDIA: Increase in violent attacks against Christian minorities
Interview with Mons. Theodore Mascarenhas, 12.04.2019
by Maria Lozano
India has just begun its electoral process, which will take place in seven separate stages between 11 April and 19 May this year. Fears that this, the most populous democracy in the world, might end up becoming a theocratic Hindu nation have strengthened recently, in light of the fact that the Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata (BJP) and its president Narendra Modi are seeking a second mandate. During its present term in office there has been an increase in interreligious violence, according to the report on Religious Freedom Worldwide by the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International). The figures speak for themselves: in 2016 a total of 86 people were killed and 2371 injured in 703 separate incidents of sectarian (Hindu fundamentalist) violence; in 2017 the figures were 111 killed and 2384 wounded in 822 separate reported incidents.
The most recent attack - on March 26 - took place in Tamil Nadu against a Catholic school, the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem, when a crowd of Hindu fundamentalists smashed up the school and even attempted to strangle the religious sisters who were running the school. ACN journalist Maria Lozano interviewed Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi and Secretary General of the Indian Bishops’ Conference and asked him about the elections and the gravity of this recent incident.
A picture from The Night of Witnesses organized by ACN France (23-29 March) Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of INDIA (CBCI) with Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, bishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the CONGO. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need. Photographer: François-Régis Salefran.