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India: attacks on religious minorities increase

 Violent attacks on religious minorities in India are on the rise - in spite of of the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in national elections in May. Benjamin Marsh, Washington Director of the Dalit Freedom Network and a Resident Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, said: "Despite our hopes that the threat of violence against religious minorities would subside, nothing seems to have changed." On August 22, armed assailants attacked and beat up, a Catholic parish priest, Fr John Sunderam, in Kubbu in Jharkhand state's Lohardaga district. The attack left him in a coma and left another priest, Father Albanus Tirkey, in the hospital with injuries. On August 26, a group of 300 Hindu fundamentalists stormed the Church of Our Lady of Charity in the town of Raikia, in Orissa. The attackers burst into the church and burned Bibles while tearing down the Tabernacle and destroying statues of saints. Police was present but did not intervene. On August 28, Fr Job Chittilappilly was killed at his parish in the town of Thuruthiparambu in Kerala. Recent phone calls threatening him because of his pastoral activities among Hindu families leading up to the attack suggests that the murder was premeditated. On the same day, six people were hurt in blasts at two mosques in western India as unidentified men on motorcycles hurled bombs in Jalna town and the Parbhani district in Maharashtra. In a statement the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy and the Dalit Freedom Network condemned these attacks on religious minorities in India and the extremist Hindu nationalism that, it said, is at the core of the problem. Institute President Joseph Grieboski said: "India continues to grow as an economic and military power without enforcing existing human rights legislation. The Institute calls on the Congress-led government to provide protection and promotion of the rights of all peoples in India - irrespective of their religious affiliation - and to work actively against extremist elements in state governments." Source: IRPP