by Michael Fischer
HONG KONG (Compass) -- A fundamentalist Hindu mob attacked a church in the eastern Indian state of Tripura on February 25. Church leaders say the Krishnanagar Baptist Church in the capital Agartala was attacked as Christians were attending the Sunday service. The mob forced the pastor to stop the service.
The church is registered under the Tripura Baptist Christian Union. Delegates from the Union met with the chief minister of Tripura on February 27. Another meeting to resolve the issue was held on March 3 with the chairman of the Agartala municipality, officials and church members.
But fundamentalist Hindus are adamant that they will not allow anyone to worship in the Krishnanagar Baptist Church, although no reason has been given for stopping the services.
In a separate development on February 23, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) criticized the recently concluded Indian census as being "discriminatory" in not accepting Dalit Christians as a separate category.
Dalit Christians represent 60 percent of the total community. The census form lists scheduled castes and tribes as Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. The CBCI vice-president, Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao, said it was a violation of articles 14, 15 and 25 of the constitution and denies the freedom of conscience, faith and equality among the citizens.
"The discrimination is violation of our human rights which is the basic issue," Concessao said. He added that the Christian community would launch a mass movement against the discrimination, lobby parliamentarians and take legal action to set the process right.
Archbishop Concessao also questioned the basis of a report released by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on February 22 that said no organized group is responsible for the attacks on Christians in the country. The archbishop said the first step should have been to "name the problem and find out its root cause or causes."
In a letter to the NCM chairperson, Justice Mohammed Shamim, Archbishop Concessao said the Commission's report would "only serve as a handle for forces which are anti-minority and who have no faith in the secular character of the constitution."
Copyright © 2001 Compass Direct News Service. Used with permission.