A bishop of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala said on Wednesday that an "unnecessary propaganda" claiming that the Christian community is persecuted in India has been unleashed internationally by vested interests, and it amounted to insulting a great nation.
There are communal organisations among all religious groups, but the ultimate goal of religions and such outfits is different, Geevarghese Mar Yulios, the metropolitan of the Kunnamkulam Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, told reporters in Thrissur.
Such vested interests were propagating that there was no religious freedom in the country and that the Christian community was being widely attacked in the nation.
"I used to get calls from abroad asking what is happening there (in India)...whether people are being killed, and so on. Of course, India is a big country. There may be some resentments here and there. It should be dealt with legally. Protests also should be staged if required," he said.
He pointed out the example of a protest held against the harassment of nuns while he had served in Gujarat some time ago. The bishop said it was proved later that the accused were those who had intruded into India using fake ID cards.
"When they were caught (by the investigators), they were not VHP activists or such others. I am not saying that the VHP is good," he added.
His remarks assume significance in view of the BJP's bid to reach out to Kerala's numerically strong Christian community ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP had organised a programme on Easter Day in which party leaders visited Christian homes as part of an effort to reach out to the minority community.
Yulios had recently hit the headlines by stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not be blamed for all the internal issues reported in the country.
At variance with Bishop Yulios's remarks about "some resentments here and there", when members of some Christian communities had held a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on February 19, which PTI had reported, one of them named Steven who hails from Uttar Pradesh pointed out that there had been "525 cases of atrocities against the members of the community in 2021 and 600 cases in 2022".
"In Uttar Pradesh, the number of such cases increased from 70 in 2020 to 183 in 2022," he had claimed, stating, "We are being accused of forcibly converting people to Christianity. Churches are being attacked, our people are being beaten up and arrested. The community members are living in a constant state of panic."
The numbers cited could not be independently verified.