Hindu vigilantes disrupt Christmas celebrations in Modi territory

NEW DELHI, December 27 (Reuters) – Die-hard Hindu vigilantes disrupted Christmas mass in parts of India, including in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s central territory ahead of local elections in the coming months , the media reported on Monday.

The disruption of Christmas celebrations over the weekend and last week included the vandalism of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ in Ambala in Haryana, a northern state ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Nationalist Party (BJP) , said the Hindu newspaper.

He also reported that activists burned a model of Santa Claus and chanted slogans against Christmas celebrations and religious conversions on Saturday outside a church in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Modi and the holiest city in Hinduism.

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Anoop Shramik, a social activist from Varanasi, told Reuters he saw around two dozen people burn Santa Claus.

Contacted by phone, the federal and state governments declined to comment.

Christmas celebrations were also disrupted in Silchar in eastern Assam on Saturday after men, claiming to be members of Bajrang Dal – a right-wing group with close ties to the BJP, broke in from force in a church, NDTV, reported a local news channel. .

The leader of the main opposition congressional party and prominent members of Christian minority groups urged Modi to act.

“The prime minister should order the BJP governments of Haryana and Assam to identify disbelievers and bring them to court,” said P. Chidambaram, former Indian finance minister and top congressional leader, in a tweet.

Since Modi came to power in 2014, right-wing Hindu groups have consolidated their position in all states and launched small-scale attacks against religious minorities, claiming their action is to prevent religious conversions.

Several Indian states have adopted or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge the freedom of belief and related rights that the Indian constitution guarantees to minorities.

Elias Vaz, national vice president of the Catholic Union of India, condemned the latest incidents.

“India’s strength is in its diversity and the people who made it on Christmas are the real anti-nationals,” Vaz said.

Christians and Muslims together make up nearly 16% of India’s 1.37 billion people.

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Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Saurabh Sharma; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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