Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale has written to the Vatican’s envoy to India, Leopoldo Girelli, over Assam’s action against Christians and the church in the state.
Referring to the church survey order as a “state-sponsored campaign of witch hunt and persecution against Christians,” Gokhale informed the papal nuncio that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) in Assam issued a notice to all district police officials allegedly to “investigate religious conversions in the state.”
Gokhale requested the envoy to raise the matter with Pope Francis and take it up with the Indian authorities. He added that the Assam government was using the police “to target and persecute not only the Christian clergy in the state but also people who have chosen to embrace the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ and convert to Christianity.”
Assam is governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the bete noire of the TMC at the national and state levels.
“With the abovementioned circular, the BJP government in Assam has now institutionalized the persecution and targeting of Christians and churches in the state and is using state machinery and intelligence agencies to deny Christians the right to practise their faith and to target those that wish to embrace Christianity,” Gokhale said. “The right to profess, propagate, and practise one’s faith is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, international law as well as the Geneva Convention recognize the right to freely practise religion and faith of one’s choice as a fundamental human right. The All India Trinamool Congress is a party that staunchly believes in secularism and celebrates the religious diversity of India. We also believe in protecting the right of every individual, especially, religious minorities to freely practise their faith without persecution.”