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India: Indian Archbishop speaks out about persecution

04 July 2017

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, SDB, Archbishop emeritus of Guwahati, spoke to Nirmala Carvalho for Crux about the situation of Christians in India.

Since 2014, India has been ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.

Incidents of harassment have increased over the past few months, with various Christians being detained or arrested for 'attempted conversion',' and places of worship being vandalised.

"Even the best church worker also can be accused of a conversion bid. The better the person, the greater the danger," said Menamparampil.

Although freedom of religion is guaranteed by the country's constitution, several Indian states - including Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh - have anti-conversion laws aimed at preventing 'forced' or 'induced' conversions.

The archbishop noted the Christian presence is minuscule in the country - about 2.3 percent of the population - and the Hindu majority is alarmed when they hear the word 'conversion', seeing it as a threat to their community's culture and identity.

Menamparampil told Crux it is easy to call the different sections of Hindu society together against a 'common enemy'.

"In real fact, the majority in the community cares least about the so-called 'conversion,' least of all the humbler sections, but they all can be brainwashed," he said.

Read the full interview.

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