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CBCI Centre, 1 Ashoka Place, New Delhi
17th November 1998

We are writing this Open Letter to you with a deep sense of pain and anguish at the recent spurt of violence inflicted on the Christian community. Since January 1998, there has been more violence against the Christian community than in the fifty years of India's independence. Nuns have been raped, priests executed, Bibles burnt, Churches demolished, educational institutions destroyed and religious personnel harassed. Even the dead body of a Christian was not allowed to rest in peace. A corpse was dug out from a graveyard in Gujarat. This State alone has counted more than forty cases of violent atrocities in less than six months of 1998.

As you know, other communities have also experienced such violence. The Sikhs faced it for more than decade. The Muslims continue to experience it in several parts of the country. Dalits and tribals undergo not only physical but also institutional violence.

We are all aware of the forces behind these acts of violence. The venom of communalism is spread by the Sangh Parivar, its allies and other communal forces to further their vested interests. Wherever Christian communities and others are involved in grass root movements, developmental work and education among the marginalised, the violence is more vicious.

The state has failed to do its duty in protecting the life, dignity and property of the victims. At many places, it seems as if the Central and State governments have tacitly supported the communal groups. How is it otherwise that the State governments have not taken any action against the virulent and anti-national statements of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, RSS, Jagran Manch and Bajrang Dal. The Centre and the State government of Rajasthan are yet to act against those who have threatened the ethnic and religious cleansing of Christians in Banswara district of Rajasthan.

Such incidents of violence are a result of a mindset which threatens the unity and integrity of the country. Ours is a country of plurality. The Constitution guarantees freedom of Religion, customs, language and culture. It is now for all of us to unite in the spirit of the Constitution to fight against the communal forces that divide the country. Let us work unitedly in the spirit of the Constitution to build a nation of equality, liberty and fraternity.

We call upon you to join us in observing the National Protest Day on 4th December 1998.

In Delhi the protest will be at the Parliament House at 10:00 am.

A Protest Fast with inter-religious prayers will also be observed the same day at Rajghat beginning at 8:00 am.

We earnestly request you to join us in big numbers.

In solidarity

Your fellow citizens of the Christian community

Issued byThe United Christian Forum for Human Rights
(Representing the CBCI, NCCI and EFI Churches)
CBCI Centre, 1 Ashoka Place, New Delhi.
convenor : john dayal

  • The Christian Community in India is Observing 4th of December 1998 as a National Protest Day
  • Responding to violence - Faith and Courage, and a Continuing Commitment to the Country's poor, weak and voiceless