Christians in India unite to challenge growing intolerance

Volunteers of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in a drill on the last day of their three-day workers' meeting in AhmedabaReuters

Prominent Christians in India have condemned the increasing intolerance in the country towards non-Hindus and "sinister attempts" to abolish positive discrimination policies that reserved jobs for those in lower castes.

The letter, signed by influential educators, clergy, a former police chief and the archbishop of Gujarat, laid out their major concerns with the developing situation in India.

"[We] as Christians in unequivocal terms denounce the growing intolerance in the country.

"We also denounce the sinister attempts to do away with reservation policy and ultimately the attempt to undermine the Constitution of India; we denounce the planned move to utilise religion for politico-economic benefits;

"We denounce the well-orchestrated efforts to use government machinery to achieve ones evil ends; we denounce all the efforts to divide the nation into fiefdom of some elements."

The letter expressed particular concern for the freedom of the indigenous Adivasi people, whose belief system is being denigrated and members coerced into leaving the ancient practices:

"We are in a special way concerned at how the indigenous Adivasi people in our country are being coerced to leave their traditional nature-based religious beliefs and practices and are subjected to so-called 'ghar vapsi' by some hindutva elements thus ushering in disharmony within their communities. Under this pretext, they are being alienated from their natural habitat and resources."

The right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has denied having any intention of abolishing the reservation policy, which has been a crucial tool in overcoming discrimination in the country since 1950. Despite this, a number of politicians have called for the positive discrimination to end.

Among those who signed the letter were Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar and Christian activist John Dayal.