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Indian President expresses concern over reports of increased persecution of Christians

Christian delegation meets President of India Droupadi Murmu. (L to R) Methodist Bishop Subodh Mondal, Church of North India Bishop Paul Swarup, Catholic Archbishop Anil JT Couto of Delhi, Dr. Michael Williams and Mrs. Tehmina Arora in New Delhi, on April 13, 2023 (Photo supplied).

President of India Droupadi Murmu received a delegation of Christian leaders from Delhi at the Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) on April 13.

The delegation comprised Catholic Archbishop Anil JT Couto of Delhi, Methodist Bishop Subodh Mondal, Church of North India Bishop Paul Swarup, Dr. Michael Williams, and Mrs. Tehmina Arora.

The delegation presented a copy of the Holy Bible, a memento of Christ the Good Shepherd blessed by Pope Francis, and a memorandum elaborating on various community concerns.

The President was briefed about the steep increase in violence against Christians, especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

On February 19, 2023, about 22,000 concerned Christians of Delhi gathered in a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

The various Christian leaders drafted and signed the memorandum that day and sought time to meet with the president to present it.

After giving a patient hearing to the delegation, Murmu recalled her days in Jharkhand and Odisha and fondly recalled the service of the church, the nuns, and other members of the Christian community in the area.

She applauded their unflinching service in healthcare, education, and nation-building. She also mentioned her time volunteering with the nuns in the region.

Murmu recalled the tragic loss of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary who was brutally murdered along with his two young sons in 1999 in the eastern Indian state of Odisha and of whom she was a neighbor. She expressed regret for her inability to go and avert his tragic loss.

She stated that she had read reports about the targeting of Christians. However, she believes that these violent attacks have been perpetrated by only a small handful of people in India. She stressed that the secular fabric of the nation, comprising its unity in diversity, was still vibrant.

She assured the delegation that she would follow up and initiate action that is within her powers to ensure that police and law enforcement complacency, unwarranted arrests, harassment of Christian families, and the attacks on institutions, as highlighted in the memorandum, are addressed. - With inputs from AC Michael 


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