40-50 members of the Hindi Yuva Shakti Sangathan marched to St. Thomas Cathedral in Varanasi and vandalized the property. They threatened the pastor with more violence if alleged religious conversions didn’t stop, a claim which hasn’t been verified.
Citizens group demands stern action against Hindu Yuva Shakti Sangathan
Varanasi: The attack on the Christian community in Uttar Pradesh continues unabated as another church was vandalized by Hindu extremists in Varanasi on October 2.
St. Thomas cathedral church in Godaulia was attacked by the members of Hindu Yuva Shakti Sangathan who took up arms against alleged religious conversion of Hindu people by the church’s pastor.
Pravin Dubey, the official representative of the organization, posted many inflammatory videos and pictures on his Facebook profile, attack the church and objecting the arrest of members.
Many social activists and citizen groups wrote a letter to the DM, SSP, Commissioner requesting him to maintain the social harmony of the city and act against those who want to attack the peaceful fabric of the neighbourhood.
“On the holy day of Gandhi Jayanti, some 40-50 members belonging to a Hindu Yuva Shakti Sangathan vandalized St. Thomas cathedral situated on the Godaulia intersection and broke the gates, locks and tore up the notice board. The pastor of the church has filed a case against it in Dashashwamedh police station. Sir, on Facebook and social media, some people are threatening to attack the church again and are circulating threats to the Christian community and their priests. They are concocting and spreading dangerous rumours of religious conversions which have created an environment of fear and terror among people. The city of Benaras is known for its Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb. For the last few years, anti-social elements are trying hard to break this sovereign unity and communal harmony,” the letter by the citizen's group said.
Talking about the church and how it is a centre where many religions merge, the group said, “The said church is 200 years old, which opens only on Sundays. People of all faiths from the neighbourhood come to the church to offer their respects. This reflects mutual harmony. There is respect for this church throughout the region. Therefore, we appeal to the government administration and the people of other social platforms of Benaras to join in this matter and arrest the miscreants. File a case against them so that it becomes a lesson for people wanting to break this unity. There should be no untoward incidents in Benaras and the peace should be maintained. At the same time, security should be arranged for the Church, the Church square and all the religious places of Benaras, so that the religious atmosphere is not disturbed and peace prevails.
The letter was signed by Saajha Sanskriti Manch, Kashi Kaumi Ekta Manch, Nagarik Prayas Manch, Insaf Manch, Rashtriya Inquilabi Dalit Adivasi Manch (RIDAM) and Asian bridge.
Full text of the letter in Hindi below:
विषय - विश्व अहिंसा दिवस (गांधी जयंती) पर गिरजाघर चर्च मे हुये हिंसा और तोड़ फोड़ के माध्यम से बनारस के सदभाव और शांति को बिगाड़ने के संदर्भ मे
निवेदन है कि हम प्रार्थीगण बनारस के तमाम सामाजिक संगठनो से प्रतिनिधित्व करते हैं। महोदय, दिनांक 2/10/2018 को गांधी जयंती के पावन दिन पर, शाम 4 से 5 के बीच कोई 'हिन्दू युवा शक्ति संगठन' के नाम पर चालीस पचास लोग गिरजाघर गोदौलिया चौराहे पर स्थित सेंट थामस चर्च पर पहुंचे और वहां के दोनों गेट के ताले तोड़े और चर्च परिसर में घुस कर तोड़फोड़ किया, नारेबाजी की व चर्च के दरवाजे के बगल में लगा नोटिस बोर्ड तोड़ दिया गया जिसकी लिखित तहरीर चर्च के पादरी ने थाना दशाश्वमेध में दर्ज करा दिया है जिसका मुकदमा संख्या 123/18 पर धारा 452/427 आईपीसी दर्ज हुआ है।
महोदय, फेसबुक व सोशल मीडिया पर कुछ लोग ईसाई समुदाय व उनके पुरोहितों को धमकी भरा संदेश प्रसारित करते हुए पुनः चर्च पर हमला करने की धमकी दे रहे हैं।और धर्मांतरण का मनगढ़ंत आरोप लगा कर दुष्प्रचार कर रहे हैं, जिसके कारण ईसाई समुदाय में दुख भय व आतंक का माहौल व्याप्त होगया है। महोदय, बनारस शहर ऐतिहासिक गंगा जमुनी तहज़ीब के साथ रहा है। लेकिन पिछले कुछ वर्षों से कुछ असमाजिक तत्वों द्वारा इस सर्वधर्म एकता को तोड़ने का प्रयास किया जा रहा हैं।
महोदय, उक्त चर्च 200 साल पुराना है जो सप्ताह में सिर्फ रविवार को ही खुलता है जिसमे आसपड़ोस के सभी धर्मों के लोग अपनी आस्था से चर्च में आते जाते हैं और अपना श्रद्धा अर्पित करते हैं जो आपसी सौहार्द को दर्शाता है। पूरे क्षेत्र में इस चर्च के प्रति आदर और सम्मान रहा है। अतः महोदय, हम बनारस के तमाम सामाजिक मंच के लोग शासन प्रशासन से अपील करते हैं कि तत्तकाल इस मामले में हस्तक्षेप करते हुए दर्ज मुकदमे में गिरफ्तारी कराया जाए ताकि बनारस शहर में अमन चैन बना रहे कोई अप्रिय घटना ना हो, शहर की शांति बनी रहे। साथ ही गिरजाघर चौराहे के चर्च की एवं बनारस के सभी धर्म स्थलों की सुरक्षा का इंतज़ाम किया जाए जिससे कि धार्मिक माहौल ना बिगड़े और शांति कायम रहे।
साझा संस्कृति मंच
काशी कौमी एकता मंच
नागरिक प्रयास मंच
इंसाफ मंच Hb
राष्ट्रीय इंकलाबी दलित आदिवासी मंच(रिदम)
Many churches and pastors have come under attack in Uttar Pradesh ever since Narendra Modi became a Prime Minister. Varanasi is his parliamentary constituency. The reason or the attacks have always been that the churches have been forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. Proof for which is yet to be corroborated.
Attacks on Christians in Jaunpur, UP
Many churches and pastors were targeted in Jaunpur district in UP in September.
“Pastors have allegedly been arrested and taken from their homes in the middle of the night, roads leading to churches have been blocked and churchgoers forced to return home by the police, and other pastors have been threatened, beaten and prevented from conducting church service, according to former Member of the Delhi Minorities Commission A.C.Michael,” a report by The Citizen said.
“Those arrested have been charged with performing “fraudulent conversions”. Many of those taken into custody were not charged at all, he said. Police say they were acting on the basis of media reports accusing church officials of luring residents with miracles and inducements. Jaunpur town is an hour and a half by road from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency,” the report said.
The Citizen came out with a timeline of attacks targeting the Christian minority in Jaunpur in September.
September 5 Pastor Durga Prasad and several others arrested
September 11 Pastor Rajendra Chouhan arrested along with six others, reportedly under pressure from right wing groups, and released on bail three days later
September 13 Pastor Gulabchand taken into custody along with three other church leaders, and released next day without any charges being filed
September 13 A Friday fasting prayer being led by Pastor Ravindra attacked by a mob of religious fanatics
September 13 Church leader Ram Milan beaten up by the brother of the village sarpanch who forces him to stop a prayer meeting
September 13 Disrupting a prayer meeting, police take into custody Pastor Ram Ratan and Pastor Thomas Osoof (from Mumbai)
September 16 Police block all roads leading to the church in Bhulandih and ask Sunday churchgoers to return home. Deepak, Rahul, Chandrabhushan, Rajendra and Virendra of the Bhulandih Church arrested, and released on bail three days later
September 16 Pastor Anil Kumar, Praduman, Deepak Kumar, Monu and Ravinder arrested during a church service, and released on bail two days later
September 23 A mob of religious fanatics accompanied by local police (pictured) go around the village shouting slogans, then enter the church, disrupting the Sunday service. Pastor Ashok Rajbhar, his father, and three other members of the church taken into custody. Pastor Rajbhar’s father later released
September 23 Another pastor conducting Sunday service arrested
September 23 Pastor Chabilal arrested while conducting Sunday service
September 24 Police ask Pastor Nanhe Lal to close down the church
The Citizen spoke to A.C. Michael, former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, who believes there is a political purpose to the attacks. “It is part of a strategy to create fear among marginalised communities, especially the Christian minority. They are preparing the ground for the introduction of a so-called Freedom of Religion bill in U.P., which is nothing but an anti-conversion law. But in U.P. nothing is happening in terms of conversion, they don’t need such a law. We asked the police on what grounds they were doing this, and they told us they saw on Zee News that forcible conversions were taking place. But if media reports can be the basis for arrests, then senior Ministers should be in jail!” he added.
Communal Tension in Varanasi as Hindu Extremists allegedly attack Church