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State impunity, police complicity, bigoted laws 'weaponizing' extreme groups: AICU

Missionaries of Charity
Counterview Desk 
The All India Catholic Union (AICU) has regretted that year 2021 has seen over 500 cases of violence on the Christian community this year, the highest since he Odisha pogrom of 2008, even as singling out two major events in the recent past suggesting how the state continues to act against the minority community even as failing to take any action against the perpetrators.
Noting how the ruling BJP governments has added to the pain of the community, AICU said, the Karnataka assembly has passed an anti-conversion law "which is the harshest ever enacted by any State in the country" as it "criminalizes inter faith marriages and almost entirely robs many classes of people, specially Dalits and Adivasis, of their freedom of faith."
Then AICU said in a statement, the last act of assault on the community was by the Central government, which has not renewed the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of the Missionaries of Charity community founded by Mother Teresa, Bharat Ratna, Nobel Laureate, and a Catholic Saint. "It is ironic that this is done soon after our prime minister Narendra Modi called on the Holy father, Pop Francis, in Rome and invited him to visit India, an act we welcomed wholeheartedly."
Alarmed at the open call of genocide of Muslims and elimination of the Christian faith made at mass gatherings in north and central India, it stated, "Minorities will feel safe if government acts against targeted hate, violence."

Text:

On behalf of the Members, Diocesan units, and Office bearers of the 102 year old All India Catholic Union, I greet fellow citizens of India, leaders of is many religious communities, its politicians, judicial, police and administrative officers, and members of the Armed Forces in the Christmas season and wish them good health, happiness and fulfilment in the New Year 2021.
It has been a traumatic year for the world with the global Covid pandemic continuing for the second year with a devastating impact on India this summer. The death toll was in lakhs, and those afflicted number in crores. Various natural calamities particularly in the states on the west coast, Kerala and the sum-Himalayan region brought great suffering to the people.
Members of the AICU, separately and as part of Church and social groups, were involved in relief operations, including feeding of the poor and destitute wherever required. With the threat of a third wave of the Omicron variant looming large, AICU calls upon the Central and State governments to earn from the many mistakes of the past two years and ensure adequate oxygen and drug supplies. Never again should India witness bodies of Covid victims floating down the Ganges, long queues at crematoriums and cemeteries, and patients gasping for breath in the compounds of hospitals.
The AICU was deeply concerned at the deleterious impact of the farm laws passed by the Union government. The Christian community is part of the farm sector in most states, with many of them small and marginal farmers. AICU therefore supported the agitation by the farmers. We join the farmers in their victorious agitation which forced the government to withdraw the three contentious laws.
The lockdowns continue to impact employment, religious activities, and the education of our young. Government should publish a White Paper on Covid’s impact on various sectors, detailing how children of poor families who number in tens of crores will catch up in studies without smart phones, low internet penetration and irregular electricity. Many children of the poor in rural areas have suffered from nourishment deficiency because mid-day meals and eggs have not been available when primary schools were closed.
But if anything is worse than the tragic consequences of the Covid pandemic, it is the surge in communalism, abetted by politicians who have helped weaponized bigotry and hate speech targeting religious minorities, including Christians. Often, this has led to violence. It is a matter of national shame that even on Christmas Day, as many as 16 incidents of violence took place on churches, congregations, institutions and even on celebrations.
If anything is worse than the tragic consequences of the Covid pandemic, it is the surge in communalism, abetted by politicians
The sight of a broken statue of Jesus Christ in the compound of a church observing His birthday, shocked not just the community, but all peace-loving people of the country. Data keepers have documented over 500 cases of violence on the Christian community this year, the highest since he Odisha pogrom of 2008.
The state has failed to act against the perpetrators. This may be so perhaps because among them are ministers, legislators, party leaders and high-profile members of right-wing hyper nationalist militant groups. We are alarmed at the open call of genocide of Muslims and elimination of the Christian faith made at mass gatherings in north and central India. Police have been complicit.
In this environment of hate, governments have added to our pain. Karnataka assembly has passed an anti-conversion law which is the harshest ever enacted by any State in the country. It criminalizes inter faith marriages and almost entirely robs many classes of people, specially Dalits and Adivasis, of their freedom of faith.
The last act of assault on the community has been by the central government which has not renewed the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of the Missionaries of Charity community founded by Mother Teresa, Bharat Ratna, Nobel Laureate, and a Catholic Saint. It is ironic that this is done soon after our prime minister, Narendra Modi, called on the Holy father, Pop Francis, in Rome and invited him to visit India, an act we welcomed wholeheartedly.
We call on the Union government to restore the FRCA of the Missionaries of Charity, and of other Christian and civil NGOs whose work with the poorest of the por has been severely impacted by the punitive measures taken by the Ministry of home affairs cancelling their FCRA registrations.
We cherish India’s history of communal harmony and great fundamental rights including the freedom to profess, practice and propagate our religion. Future years, we hope, will see harmony becoming stronger and giving a befitting challenge to forces and elements that seek to harm religious minorities, Dalits and Adivasis.

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