A leading Christian body has expressed "deep concern" at what it said was a rash of violence against the minority community in several states following the April-May general election, reports the Indo-Asian news service.
The All India Catholic Union (AICU) even said even states with little record of communal violence like Kerala had seen the desecration of churches, attacks on nuns of the Missionaries of Charity and the murder of a Catholic priest, apart from numerous smaller incidents of violence against Catholic and Protestant churches.
"In all cases, the suspects were identified as belonging to fundamentalist groups of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) family," John Dayal, the AICU national president, said in a statement issued here.
"Even more dangerous were developments in states ruled by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and its allies, including Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand.
"Since the general election, there has been a systematic effort in all these states to dismantle many safety apparatuses that had been set in place by the previous governments," the statement said.
Dayal pointed out that in Rajasthan, the distribution of trishuls, or tridents, had been legalised and was being "officially encouraged". In several states, there was "aggressive coercion" to reconvert those who had embraced Christianity, he said.
"There is rapid communalisation of the educational system. The tribal area has practically been handed over to the Sangh Parivar which has launched a whole scale hate campaign against Muslims and Christians," he said.
Lauding the central government's "detoxification of the human resource development infrastructure...from communal infiltration in the last five years", Dayal called for vigilance against similar elements in police, judicial and other administrative units.
Referring to the revelations about declining literacy percentages and economic status of Christians as revealed in the recent census report, the AICU leadership said it exposed the hollowness of claims of development of minority communities since independence.
"It was time now to go beyond paying lip service to the cause of the Dalits, specially Christians of Dalit origin, and the poor," Dayal said.
"The church has to take concrete measures including working for social safety nets, universal health insurance and entrepreneurship programmes. Dalits and landless peasantry must be assured free education. The government must ensure adequate funds towards this."