Christians in India are increasingly getting harassed and attacked under anti-conversion laws, even for things like celebrating Christmas or having a prayer meeting. This letter appeared in a local newspaper, sent by Hindu extremists.
Recently, Christians in the Indian state of Gujarat saw an unwelcome letter in a local newspaper. The same letter had been sent to local authorities by Hindu extremists, who don’t believe that Christianity should exist in India. In it, the state’s anti-conversion laws are used to attack Christians celebrating Christmas – suggesting that they should monitored and prevented from doing so.
To, Magistrate Office, Gujarat.
Subject: Not to give permission to unauthorised people to celebrate Christmas.
Greetings to you. Here we would like to bring your attention that in the tribal areas of Gujarat, people are publicly breaking the rules and regulation of Anti Conversion Bill. There is no one who is Christian on paper yet they are practicing Christianity and they are also promoting others to do the same.
If they are Christians why do they not write themselves Christians in the paper (their documents do not show they are Christians). If we haven't received permission to celebrate Navratri [a Hindu Festival] which is festival of our Goddess, why do you give permission to these people to celebrate a foreign religion called Christmas?
Here heartily we are requesting to you, not to give permission to these people to celebrate Christmas. If anyone comes to you to get the permission, kindly ask them for on paper Christian Religion certificate. If you will not take any action regarding this then Anti National activity in this area will increase and the responsibility will be yours.
It was signed by representatives of local extremist Hindu groups.
It’s not the only letter attacking Christians that has been submitted. This is a new trend in several communities and regions – local extremist groups send these sorts of letters to authorities, purporting to have concern about Christians forcibly converting others. In reality, these believers are simply celebrating Christmas or holding praying meetings.
Meanwhile, in Assam state, the leader of a Hindu nationalist youth group has told Hindus that they will be punished if they visit a church during Christmas: "No Hindus will be allowed to visit churches," said Mithun Nath. His initial statement seemed to suggest that Hindus who did visit churches would be 'beaten up', though he later clarified: "We will not beat them, but will definitely stop them. They are ways to restrict. We might talk to them or start awareness initiatives."
It is quite common for Hindus and other non-Christian Indians to visit churches in Assam and neighbouring states during the Christmas period, to attend midnight mass and enjoy the nativity scenes - but Nath says this diminishes Hindus 'self-respect'.
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