Home EDITOR'S PICK Christian Organisations Accuse Assam Govt of Discrimination and Intimidation 

Christian Organisations Accuse Assam Govt of Discrimination and Intimidation 

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Christian Organisations Accuse Assam Govt of Discrimination and Intimidation 

The state police have initiated a survey targeting the Catholic community, their churches, institutions, and conversions.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Tension is palpable across the state of Assam as allegations of religious discrimination and targeting of minority communities, particularly Muslims and Christians, continue to surface against the government. Accusations of biased policies and intimidation tactics have sparked outrage and raised concerns over communal harmony and religious freedom in the northeastern state.

In recent years, the government of Assam has come under scrutiny for its alleged targeting of minorities. Initially these allegations pertained to the targeting of the Muslim community. But, of late, the allegations have been extended to cover the Christian population. Organisations propagating Hindutva have been at the forefront. They have been repeatedly calling for removal of religious symbols and statues from missionary schools and advocating for the observance of Saraswati Puja.

The Christian community, which constitutes about 3.74 percent of Assam’s population, has strongly opposed these measures, viewing them as an infringement on their religious freedom. With over 300 missionary schools in the state, the community plays a significant role in the education sector.

The controversy reached new heights when the state police initiated a survey targeting the Catholic community, their churches, institutions, and conversions. However, the Christian community has refused to cooperate, denouncing the survey as discriminatory. Archbishop of Guwahati, Janmoolachira, criticised a circular issued by the Assam Police, alleging that it unfairly targets church activities and conversions, reports reaching here said on Thursday.

The circular, issued on December 16 last year, requested information on the number of new churches built in the past year, conversions over the last six years, and the reasons for conversions. It also included provisions to identify individuals involved in conversion activities. Christian organisations have questioned the selective targeting of their community, demanding equal scrutiny of temples, mosques, and other religious institutions.

The Catholic Association of Shillong, representing neighbouring Christian-majority Meghalaya, echoed these sentiments, accusing the Assam government of adopting a discriminatory stance. They condemned the proposed survey as an attempt to intimidate and harass the Christian community.

In response to mounting pressure, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma distanced himself from the controversy, stating that the survey was a police matter and not under his purview. Leaders of the ruling BJP also clarified that the administration did not support the survey of Christian activities.

Meanwhile, a Hindu organisation named ‘Kutumba Suraksha Parishad’ further fueled tensions by demanding the removal of religious symbols and statues from missionary schools. The organisation’s head, Satya Ranjan Bora, warned of consequences for non-compliance, intensifying fears among school managements and the church.

The atmosphere of fear in missionary schools has escalated, with warnings plastered on school walls in some districts of Upper Assam. Sister Rose Fatima, Principal of Carmel School, Jorhat, expressed concern over the heightened tensions and requested police protection for the school premises.

Critics have lambasted the government’s inaction in addressing the escalating situation, accusing it of turning a blind eye to the targeting of minority communities. Despite positive responses from the police towards requests for security, Christian leaders argue that the government’s silence on the matter is troubling.

Amidst growing concerns, Christian leaders are contemplating a meeting with the chief minister to voice their grievances and seek assurances for the protection of their religious rights. They emphasise the need for upholding constitutional principles of religious freedom and condemn any attempts to undermine the secular fabric of the nation. As tensions continue to simmer, all eyes are on the government’s response to the escalating crisis and its implications for religious harmony in the state.

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