New Delhi: 

Delhi police on Thursday detained more than 100 Christian protesters, including priests and nuns, who were dragged into police buses during a demonstration against the most recent in a string of attacks on churches.

Holding placards and shouting slogans, approximately 500 protesters gathered in front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral to demonstrate against what they said was increasing incidents of Christian persecution in the national capital.

Fr Savarimuthu Shankar, spokesperson of the Delhi archdiocese, said the police treated the protesters ruthlessly.

“They did not even spare the women and the elderly. They were even kicking the people who fell down on the ground after the crackdown,” he added.

According to Fr Shankar, who was present at the protest, the group had been behaving peacefully — singing hymns and offering prayers.

Samuel Jayakumar of the National Council of Churches in India, who was also one of the protesters, told that a delegation from the community has gone to meet federal home minister Rajnath Singh to bring to his attention the concerns of the Christian community regarding the recent attacks.

The protest, which was staged following a February 2 attack on a church in south Delhi, comes just two days before the Delhi assembly elections.

The attackers broke the tabernacle of the St Alphonsa’s church and scattered the host. They also entered the Sacristy of the church.

It was the fifth attack on a church in Delhi in a span of two months. The community has been facing such incidents since December 1, when fire engulfed the St Sebastian Church in the Dilshad Garden area of Delhi.

A few days after the church-burning incident, a Catholic Church in Jasola area was stoned by unidentified people. A crib was allegedly burned earlier this month while a service was being held in a church in the Rohini area of Delhi. On January 14, a Catholic church was attacked and its grotto damaged by three unidentified men.

Fr Dominic Emmanuel, one of the protesters detained by police, called the crackdown “brutal and illegal”.

“We have all the right to make our voices heard. We were legitimately protesting against the harm done on our churches,” he told from inside the police station.

Police officials were not available for comment on Thursday despite repeated attempts by

NDTV quoted senior police officer Mukesh Kumar Meena as saying the group had “no permission to protest on the road”.

“They can't just march to the home minister's residence. We have to protect the residence of VIPs," he reportedly said.


Posted on : 05-February-2015