POLICE in India’s capital detained hundreds of Christian protesters yesterday as they prepared to march to the home minister’s residence to demand that the government investigate recent attacks on churches.
The protest came after a mysterious fire gutted a church in New Delhi and several others were vandalised over the past two months. The protesters blame the attacks on Hindu fundamentalists.
Carrying placards that read “Enough is enough, what are police doing?” the protesters assembled outside the city’s main Sacred Heart Cathedral, where they were dragged into buses and taken to a police station. Several priests and nuns were among those detained. They were expected to be released later in the day.
Police said the protesters were detained because demonstrations are banned in the neighbourhood where home minister Rajnath Singh lives.
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“The protesters have no permission to protest on the road. They can’t just march to the home minister’s residence. We have to protect the homes of VIPs,” senior police officer Mukesh Kumar Meena told television reporters.
Church leaders have expressed disappointment that prime minister Narendra Modi has not spoken out against the attacks.
Christians make up about 2.3 per cent of India’s population of 1.26 billion. They say attacks on churches have increased since Mr Modi’s Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party won power last May.
On Monday, a church was broken into and holy objects desecrated, in the fifth such attack on a Christian place of worship since December.