Indian Prelate Seeks End to Violence Against Christians
12/08/2021: Archbishop Sebastian Durairaj of Bhopal seeks action against the culprits and dialogue between the Church and its accusers.
Archbishop Sebastian Durairaj of Bhopal has urged authorities to end the continuing violence against Christians in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
“A section of our community is feeling insecure. That is why we met Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who has assured us of appropriate action,” the archbishop is reported to have said in a video message released after his meeting with the minister on Dec. 7.
He also appealed for action in the recent attack on St. Joseph School in Vidisha district by a 500-strong mob of Hindutva activists alleging the school management was converting students to Christianity.
The newly appointed archbishop, who is based in state capital Bhopal, told UCA News that he raised the issue of increasing attacks against Christians and their institutions in the state.
“He asked me ‘Do you convert people?’ and I replied ‘No, we don’t,’” Archbishop Durairaj said about his interaction with Mishra.
“The minister patiently listened to our concerns and agreed to help us. He promised action against those who attacked the school.”
We need to reach out to all those who have misconceptions or misunderstandings about us to bring peace. The archbishop said he tried to dispel the misconception of the minister that Christians indulge in illegal religious conversion and appealed to move ahead in the spirit of unity and brotherhood.
“But it is unfortunate that some antisocial elements have taken to violence and are attacking our community members,” he added.
Archbishop Durairaj further underlined the need for mutual dialogue. “We need to reach out to all those who have misconceptions or misunderstandings about us to bring peace,” he added.
Madhya Pradesh, like the rest of India, has witnessed a significant rise in violence against Christians this year. Over 300 incidents have been recorded across its 21 states, according to a fact-finding report by the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and United Against Hate and United Christian Forum (UCF).