Coverage of a Historic Christian Rally in New Delhi on 29th May
Thousands of Christians, Dalits court arrest in Delhi
New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) At least 4,000 Christians, Dalits and rights
activists from across the country courted arrest here Tuesday while
protesting against the "silence" of the government on the alleged
rise in anti-Christian attacks.
At a rally, "Stop Violence on Christians", held at Jantar Mantar
here, Christian and Dalit leaders, including All India Christian
Council (AICC) president Joseph D'Souza, National Integration Council
member John Dayal, Justice Party president Udit Raj and Mount Carmel
School principal V.K. Williams, warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
that his silence could lead to killing of innocent people at the
hands of communal forces.
"The protest is in the wake of attacks on Pastor Walter Masih in
Jaipur, Rajasthan on April 19 and priests Ramesh Gopargode and Ajit
Belavi on May 7 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and a high incidence of
communal assaults this year thus far," Madhu Chandra, an AICC leader,
Chandra said that in 2006, the AICC recorded at least one incident of
anti-Christian attack every third day, "but this rose to one attack
every alternate day during the first four months of this year".
The participants, who were from several states including Delhi,
Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab,
Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, shouted slogans against the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, saying, "UPA government, wake
up and stop atrocities on Christians."
Also present at the rally were victims of communal violence,
including Masih and two Christians from Himachal Pradesh, Bernard
Christopher and Ravinder Gautam, who were allegedly tonsured and
forcibly "reconverted" to Hinduism in Kullu district May 23.
Dayal said Christianity had been reduced to a "daylight religion",
because "the people of the community feel unsafe after sunset".
Expressing disappointment with the Congress party that leads the UPA,
Dayal added that it was no longer only the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) that should be blamed for anti-Christian agenda. "Look at the
Congress-government in Himachal Pradesh, which enacted the anti-
conversion law," he said.
Dalit leader Raj told the Christians not to trust any political party
including the Congress saying, "You must have hopes only from
Offering Dalits' support to the Christian community, Raj added that
they should "learn to identify their friends".
The crowd left the Parliament Street police station, where they
courted arrest, at 2.15 p.m. after an official announced that there
were not enough jails to keep such a huge number of people.
Christians in Mumbai also staged a rally at Azad Maidan to show
solidarity with the protesters here.