Over 3,200 Christians endorse statement dissociating from recent lunch hosted by PM Modi

The statement said the "anti-conversion laws which have been put into place in BJP-ruled states are used as weapons against the fundamental right to preach, practise and propagate one's religion".
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

NEW DELHI: Over 3,200 eminent citizens from the Christian community, including TMC MP Derek O'Brien, have endorsed a statement dissociating from a lunch hosted for the community representatives by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25 while flagging growing attacks and vilification from "members of the ruling regime" and the situation in Manipur.

The Christian community has contributed significantly to the country's freedom struggle as well as in every sphere of life since independence, particularly in the educational, medical, social, cultural and political sectors, according to the statement.

"However, in the recent past, particularly since 2014, the Christians in India have been victims of continued attacks and vilification from members of the ruling regime all over the country," the statement said.

"The Christians and Christian schools and institutions have been hounded and harassed, their places of worship destroyed, they have been denied their ordinary rights as citizens and been subject to denigration and demonization," it added.

The statement said the "anti-conversion laws which have been put into place in BJP-ruled states are used as weapons against the fundamental right to preach, practise and propagate one's religion".

"Celebrations in schools have been stopped and Christians have been arrested without any warrant and put behind bars for no offence of theirs," it added.

The statement also mentioned the situation of violence in Manipur, where tension is continuing dominantly with Hindu Meitei and dominantly Christian Kuki communities since May 3, 2023.

"The Christians of Manipur have been subject to constant attacks which still continue unabated and with apparent approval from the BJP Governments both in the State and at the Centre," it said.

The statement further mentioned, "in the wake of all this, it is ironic that the prime minister hosted around 100 Christian representatives of different denominations on Christmas morning for a celebration".

"While it is certainly within his right as Prime Minister to host a reception for whomsoever he wishes one naturally would question the intention of this reception when he has not condemned a single attack on the Christians, under his Prime Ministership," it said.

"Those invited to the Christmas reception were a select group of Christians. While the invitation was from the Prime Minister, here was an opportunity for them to courteously decline the invite in the light of what has been happening to the Christians in Manipur and elsewhere. Hence their acceptance of this invite was not in our name!" the statement said.

"Today we the Christians of India together with conscious and committed citizens pledge to protect and promote the Constitution, Country and Citizens of India and to work with and work for all those who are victims of an unjust, insincere and authoritarian regime," it added.

The signatories to the statement also include retired IAS officer M.G. Devashayam and retired IPS officer John Shilsi.

The civil society activists Apoorvanand, John Dayal, Shabnam Hashmi, Minakshi Singh, Mary Scaria and AC Michael had at a press conference last week said it is ironic that the year, which saw churches being burnt in Manipur in May ends with Prime Minister Modi felicitating leaders of the minority community.

The prime minister met members of the Christian community at his residence in Delhi on Christmas and heaped praise on the community for its role in giving direction to society and a sense of service.

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The New Indian Express