Growing violence in India is a threat to stability Press Release from South Asian Development Partnership
Monday 29th September 2008
Growing violence exposes serious threats to India’s social and political balance, said SADP leaders Dr Prem Sharma and Ram Gidoomal, after a meeting at the Indian High Commission in London.
The past month has seen bomb blasts in Delhi (over 20 killed), the murder of a Hindu leader, and an escalating cycle of attacks on Christians in Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. An estimated 25 people have been killed and around 50,000 Christians have been forced either to flee into the forest or enter refugee camps.
Dr Sharma is Patron of SADP (South Asian Development Partnership). He commented:
“We were re-assured that the Government of India is taking steps to deal with the violence, issuing notice under Section 355 to two state governments that they need to take urgent action. This is the work of a few extremists, who do not represent the majority in India. We urge them to halt their activities and call for peaceful discussion of issues. Minorities are being ill-treated by those who claim to represent the majority. We need to return to the Hindu tradition of the strong looking after the weak, not oppressing them.”
Ram Gidoomal CBE, SADP Chairman, said:
"India has a long tradition of religious harmony and constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. This is under increasing pressure from sectarian forces and terrorist attacks. The recent attacks in different places have seen priests and other Christians tortured and killed. Their homes have been burnt and churches destroyed. Nuns have been raped. People have been forced to flee from their homes and are now living in fear of their lives. Rumours and counter-rumours are being spread.
“This is the work of extremists who are destroying the fabric of India. The nation is now locked in a struggle between the secularism established at Independence, and a double challenge from the Naxalites (who now control 10% of India's districts, according to Government figures), and from Hindutva forces who want to re-impose the unequal hold of traditional structures. The vast majority in India are peace loving people who respect life. We pray for an end to this violence."
SADP urges all those concerned at the situation to contact the Prime Minister of India to call for an end to violence and to the many injustices faced by the poor and marginalised.
Christians account for about 2.5 percent of India's 1.1 billion population, while more than 80 percent of Indians are Hindu.
Naxalites, (Maoist insurgents), have been blamed by the Indian police for the killing of Hindu radical leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four associates, but the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), of which Swami Saraswati was a local figurehead, has responded, along with the Bajrang Dal, by launching attacks on Christian targets in Orissa, where there was already tension between various marginalised groups, and further attacks in Bangalore (Karnataka), Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.