India: Christians appeal to government for protection

 More than a thousand Christians from all over Mumbai took part in a candle light vigil Satyagraha outside Our Lady of Salvation Portuguese Church, in Dadar west, Mumbai, on Wednesday to appeal to the government to do more protect them from violent attacks. This day was chosen because it marked the 60th death anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi , also known as Martyr's Day. Bishop Bosco Penha, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay lit the first candle at the beginning of this peace vigil service. He said: "Christians are victimized and the government should act immediately. We have taken this protest onto the street so the secular world can see our message that these attacks must stop. In a statement, the campaigners said: "We condemn the brutal attacks that have taken place on Christmas Eve on the Christian community in Kanhamal district of Orissa. The festival of joy and peace was vitiated by the unwarranted attacks by fundamentalist forces. It is more disgusting to observe the total break down of the law and order machinery to prevents such crimes against humanity." In a memorandum, submitted to the National Human Rights Commission signed by Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, Dr John Dayal, President of the All India Catholic Union , Dr Joseph Desouza, President of the All India Christian Council and other Christian leaders, said nine people have been killed, around 90 churches have been burned, and at least 600 houses have been vandalised, leaving 5,000 people homelsss, According to the report by All India Christian Council and All India Catholic Union, there were about four cases a week against Christians in 2007. The National Minority Commission in its report after visiting some of the sites in Orissa stated that the attacks on Christians in Orissa;s Khandamal district in December were "preplanned and the state Government was " negligent in controlling the violence. IPrime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh promised: " I assure you that the Government will take all necessary steps to safeguard the fundamental rights and liberties of all sections of our society and protect their religious freedom as enshrined in the Constitution. Campaigners are appealing for the Prime Minister to implement the laws that are supposed to protect Christians in India, actively investigate the attacks that have taken place and do more to ensure that they do not happen again.

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