New Delhi, January 25, 2007: The 57th Indian Republic Day is just one day away, which reminds the democracy and secularism that guarantee the fundamental rights to all citizen of India irrespective of faith, religion, color, caste and race. But Indian Christians suffer persecution from Hindutva forces in every walk of the life.
Andhra Pradesh Christians have suffered several times by the draconian religious policing of foreign visitors to the state evoking frightening memories of the Sangh Parivar raj in New Delhi whose similar action met with indignation and condemnation from national and international civil society. The state police and intelligence agencies, often accompanied by thugs of the Sangh Parivar, have been breaking into Christian prayer and social meetings where international guests are present. Several of such meetings have been abruptly broken up by police who say they will not permit the participation of foreigners who are in India on a tourist visa. This is an action that violates the Indian Constitutional and International protocol.
Dr. Sam Paul â€“ National Secretary of All India Christian Council said that in last three months there were four major Christian meetings held at Rajahmundry, East Godavari District on 16 â€“ 20 November 2006; Visakhapatnam on 15 â€“ 25 November 2006; Kakinada, East Godavari District on 1 â€“ 2 December 2006; and Antarvedipalem, East Godavari District: 10 â€“ 14 January 2007, which were obstructed by police forces with thugs of Sangh Parivar.
Dr. Paul also said that the international visitors are not here on missionary visas, which India does not give though thousands of Hindu priests routinely go abroad to preach in the West. Our guests do not convert but participate in Christian meetings. They merely attend ceremonies as faithful Christians who do not lose their religious identity just because they are in India. The discrimination is patently against Christians.
Dr. John Dayal â€“ Member of National Integration Council of India, General Secretary of All India Christian Council said that Buddhists from Tibet, China, Japan and other countries come to Bodh Gaya and fully participate in religious and socio-political activities connected with their communities and their faith. Similarly, Sikhs citizens of the US and the UK, Pakistan and Afghanistan, come to Punjab for prayer and worship at gurudwaras. People of Indian origin, citizens of Britain and the United States of America, Europe and Hong Kong, routinely come to India and fully participate in all religious an social political activities though they are foreign citizens. He questioned that why not International Christian communities come and join the prayer meetings with their Indian Christian communities?
Two memorandums were submitted to state Chief Minister and Prime Minister demanding to stop Visa Policing of Foreign Christians, Graveyards in District Headquarters and Major Towns for Christians and Allocation of 10 acres Open Ground to hold Spiritual meetings for Christians in the state. Dr. Paul said that Andhra Pradesh Government has granted acres of land to ISCKON group recently. The similar must be granted to Christian communities of the state.
The signatories of the memorandum are Dr. Sam Paul - National Secretary, All India Christian Council, Rev. Dr. M.A. Paul - District President, Vizag All India Christian Council, Rev. Dr. Yesupadam - Chairman, Vizag All India Christian Council, Founder Love-n-care Ministries, Rev. Prem - District President, West Godavari Dist. All India Christian Council; Rev. Satyapal - District President, Khammam District, All India Christian Council; and Mr. Albert Lael - National Organising Secretary, All India Christian Council.