ASIA / INDIA – Vandalism in a Catholic church in southern India
Bangalore (Agenzia Fides) – A 160-year-old Catholic church in the district of Chikkaballapur, in the state of Karnataka, in southern India, was vandalized on the morning of December 22. As Fr. Joseh Anthony Daniel, parish priest of the Church of San JosÃ© in Susaipalya, about 65 km from Bangalore, confirmed to Agenzia Fides, strangers entered the church at around 5.30 a.m., destroying halls and damaging sacred objects. The parish priest lodged a complaint with the police who are investigating the events.
In recent weeks, in various districts of Karnataka state in southern India, there have been episodes of inter-communal tension and violence against Christians. At the root of the tensions is the new bill to limit religious conversions, presented to the state parliament assembly in recent days. According to the national government, in the hands of the Hindu Nationalist Party Bharatiya Janata (BJP), the bill entitled “Protection of the right to freedom of religion” aims to prevent “forced conversions”. According to observers, it actually targets religious minorities (Christians and Muslims) and even provides for stiffer penalties than similar laws in force in other Indian states. There were public protests against the bill throughout Karnataka, with the participation of Mgr. Peter Machado, Catholic Archbishop of Bangalore (see Fides 12/14/2021).
In Karnataka, 84% of the 61 million inhabitants are Hindus, while Muslims represent 13% and Christians 2% of the total population. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/12/2021)