Christian community in India seeks protection after fiery protest by Hindu nationalists

A Catholic bishop in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India is now calling for protection for their Christian community after a group of Hindu nationalists held a protest to criticize missionaries while holding burning torches.

(REUTERS / Anindito Mukherjee)Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside a church in New Delhi February 5, 2015.

On Nov. 10, Hindu nationalists claimed authorities in Sagar district were not taking seriously the complaints they had filed against missionaries who had allegedly broken anti-conversion laws. They threatened to hold an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic-run orphanage if the government did not move within a fortnight, UCA News detailed.

In September, a Catholic priest working in the orphanage was removed and the establishment was closed by government officials in what church leaders said was a move influenced by Hindu groups. The organizers of the demonstration, the fundamentalist Dharam Jagaran Samanwaya Samiti, informed media that the orphanage and other projects of the church were all just a cover for its mission to convert people to the Christian faith.

In light of the situation, Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar presented a memorandum to the state chief minister, governor, and district officials asking for their help and for the protection of Christians. He urged the administration to put an end to the false accusations that Christians were "out to convert Hindus, violating laws."

Meanwhile, sources said two Christians who were assaulted by Hindu extremists while on a train en route to a Bible conference in Mumbai with several children are now dealing with charges of kidnapping and forced religious conversion. Later, the attackers also beat the children's Christian parents who had come to take their kids home. The former then told the police to keep the children in custody for one week, Morning Star News reported.

"I am shocked at the way the Hindu extremists take law into their hands with impunity knowing that the government is theirs," said Amrit Kumar Matera, one of the Christian parents.

Anita Francis and her 19-year-old daughter Sophia Francis had obtained permission from the Christian parents of seven children to take them to a Bible study program. However, a mob of Hindu extremists barged into the train and forced them out before interrogating them.

The children were eventually released and returned to their parents. Sophia Francis and Alex Matera, Amrit Kumar Matera's son, were also set free. However, Anita Francis and Amrit Kumar Matera were only freed on Nov. 3 on bail. Unfortunately, the charges against them are still there, and they have asked for prayers as their case progresses.