New Delhi: What stops a prime minister like Narendra Modi, who has a strong mandate, to put a full stop on attacks on Christians in India, ask community leaders in the country, adding that it sends a wrong message to the world about India.
"It seems that nobody is interested in stopping attacks on Christians in India. Prime Minister Modi has a strong mandate and he can stop it just by sending a stern message to anti-Christians," Father Savari Muthu, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), told IANS.
There has been a sense of unrest and anxiety among Christians after attacks on churches, schools and other community institutions across the country. The prime minister himself strongly condemned the attacks said his government would ensure the right of every citizen to "retain or adopt" any religion.
Muthu said fundamental groups are accusing Christians of "all sorts of things" and must be controlled as Christians are also Indians.
"I was shocked to read in newspapers that some Hindu fundamentalists, reacting to the nun's rape (in Nadia, West Bengal), have accused the community of sexually exploiting nuns," he said, adding that it was disgusting to make such "insensitive comments".
The comments of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat against Mother Teresa have also added to the growing unease among the community.
John Dayal, spokesperson, United Christian Forum for Human Rights, said: "The RSS has made it clear that they do not recognize Christians and Muslims as Indians."
Asked if he feels the government has made any effort to control the situation, Dayal told IANS:, "Modi has not only made no effort to control or deactivate the Sangh Parivar, which is the main force behind the campaign against Muslims and Christians, by not naming and shaming them, he is encouraging them."
Meenakshi Singh, vice president of the National Federation for Christian Unity, wondered if the rising attacks on Christians and the controversial statements by right-wing fringe element "could be a political conspiracy" against Modi the government.
"The attacks on the peace-loving community could be a political conspiracy," Meenakshi Singh told IANS.
"I wonder why Christians are being targeted ever since the BJP-led government took over last year. It was fine, barring one or two such incidents in the country, but things have gone out of control after Modi took over," she said, adding that this could also be orchestrated by elements who want to project the ruling party in a "bad light".
"You never know what is the purpose...otherwise why would anybody attack us," she asked, describing the Nadia incident was "shameful".
"It's shameful for every major political party in the country, and attacks on the community must be stopped as it sends a wrong message to the world about our country," she said.
In a recent attack, an church under construction in Haryana's Hisar town was vandalized by a right-wing group. In the shocking incident in Nadia, a 71-year-old nun of a Rangaghat convent school was raped by one of a group of seven dacoits on March 14.
Chandigarh-based Bishop Younas Massey said that "persecution of Christians must be done away with as it unnecessarily vitiates the atmosphere".
"Nationality cannot be determined on the basis of religion. The attackers are not only harming the Christians but creating a serious constitutional crisis," Massey told IANS, and urged the central government to nab the culprits at the earliest.
Bishop P.P. Marandih of the Patna diocese said that attacks on Christians in India was a clear cut case of the "strong attacking the weak".
"It's like jungle rule; there you have the weak being killed by the strong. I think it's the same thing going on here," Marandih told IANS and hoped that "everything will be normal soon as it was all senseless".
(The views expressed here are not of Madhyamam.)