Christians in India are treated as “terrorists” by the government, according to a group of Catholic bishops, who claim it uses its Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to investigate Christian institutions, Catholic news agency UCAN reports.
Nine bishops from the north-eastern state of Jharkhand met with the state governor, Draupadi Murmu, in a bid to stop what they called “government harassment”.
“We are now treated as terrorists and officials of the ATS are after us as if we are involved in terrorist activities,” Auxiliary Bishop Telesphore Bilung of Ranchi, Jharkhand’s capital, told UCAN.
Over the past few months, several Christian organisations have been investigated and requested to produce their financial details within 24 hours, while “church people” have been arrested on “trumped-up charges”, the bishop said.
The bishops’ claims were dubbed “absurd” by state police spokesperson R.K. Mallick.
According to UCAN, the investigations into the Christian groups followed allegations from the government and Hindu groups that the Christians were using their funds for religious conversions and also for supporting the Pathalgadi tribal movement that seeks greater autonomy.
The bishops have also sent a memorandum to the federal Home Minister, stating that all the accused institutions have acted in line with regulations.
“The government is unleashing violence against those who follow a different ideology, which is not good for our country,” Indian Bishops’ Conference secretary-general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas told UCAN.
He also questioned why it is only Christian organisations that are investigated for receiving foreign funds, even though they are not the only ones to have such connections.