Rajasthan: Attacks on Christian community stoke fears ahead of Christmas
Three attacks on Christian events in the state has stoked fears among the members of the community, raising apprehensions about how safe Christmas will be.
Members of a right-wing Hindu group attacked a Christian function in Sriganganagar on December 18. A similar incident was reported from the district on November 22. Christians were also attacked in Banswara last week.
On December 18, the Church of Jesus organised an event at a marriage hall in Royal Saraswati Garden, but right-wing groups gathered at the spot and began protesting before the function could begin. They were accusing the Christian community of carrying out religious conversation, said Rahul Katakey, Ganganagar SP.
“The owner of the venue locked the gates from outside and fled. He must have faced pressure from the Hindu groups. The situation was tense but there was no violence,” he added.
However, the venue owner, Neeraj, said that it was the Hindu group members that had locked the gates.
Following this, the members of the Christian community decided to go ahead and conduct their prayers on the road outside the venue.
Dr Amar Deep Singh, the pastor of the Church of Jesus and organizer of the function, said that several community memebers were also stopped from attending the program, over accusations of conversions.
“We told the administration that they could record a video of the event as we won’t say anything against any religion,” he added.
However, Pratap Singh Shekhawat, a lawyer who was among the protesters, said that the organisers had not taken permission from the district administration for the event.
“The venue owner too had cancelled their booking. They had taken permission for Christmas celebrations but were celebrating some ‘Masih Utsav’ under which they would carry conversions of poor people to Christianity by promising them economic benefits,” he said.
Gyana Ram, Ganganagar collector told HT that the Christians were organizing the function at a private place and hence did not need permission from the district admission. “Some groups had registered their opposition to the function and anticipating clashes we had deployed police and magistrate at the place. When they started conducting the prayers on road, we told them to go somewhere else as road is a public place,” said that collector.
“Everybody celebrates their festivals with happiness and they should have the freedom to do so. There is still some fear in our hearts that the Christmas celebrations may be hampered,” said the pastor.
However, the SP has assured them of security, he added.
In another incident in Banswara on December 15, some Christians were attacked by a group of 8 to 10 boys whose faces were covered, said Banswara SP Anand Sharma.
“In the FIR, the victims claimed that the boys yelled ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, attacked them and fled. The victims did not have any visible injuries,” he added.