Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress wrote to the Vatican today, alleging “state-sponsored persecution of Christians” in Assam. Party spokesman Saket Gokhale wrote to the Embassy of the Holy See of the Vatican, urging them to take note of an order seeking details about Assam churches and religious conversions. This, he wrote, amounts to “state-sponsored persecution” and asked them to raise the matter in appropriate diplomatic forums with the Centre.
NDTV has a copy of Mr Gokhale’s letter to the Reverend Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India.
“Through this representation, we wish to apprise you of this extremely serious issue in the state of Assam with an appeal to notify His Holiness Pontifex Maximus as well as The Holy See regarding this state-sponsored persecution of Christians and to take up this issue in the relevant diplomatic forums with the Govt of India as you may deem fit,” Mr Gokhale wrote.
The reference was to the recent order by the Assam Police, seeking information on the number of churches in the region along with details of people involved in religious conversion.
The letter from the special branch of Assam police to the district administrations had got leaked to the media, triggering a fresh controversy.
The letter, written by a Superintendent of Police with the special branch, a copy of which is available with NDTV, has asked the district police chiefs for information by December 22 on the number of churches established within the past year, the number of existing churches, instances of religious conversion in the past six years, and the people involved in conversion activities.
The Assam state government, Mr Gokhale wrote, was using the police and intelligence department “to target and persecute not only the Christian clergy in the state but also people who have chosen to embrace the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ and convert to Christianity.”
“The right to profess, propagate, and practice one’s faith is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, international law, as well as the Geneva Convention, recognize the right to freely practice religion and faith of one’s choice as a fundamental human right,” Mr Gokhale wrote.
Today, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma distanced himself from the controversial letter by the Assam police. Corrective measures have been taken, he said.
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