Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh state have been left deeply disturbed and worried about future attacks on their community after the statue was found burned and vandalised. And a spokesman for the Diocese of Jhabua, one of the region’s religious administrators, is urging Christians in the area to be calm. Rockey Shah told Asia News: “Investigations are underway.
“We presented a memorandum to the police officer and collector.
“We have asked our people to pray for peace and harmony and not to react aggressively.”
The statue, which depicted the mother of Jesus, was targeted by unknown individuals on February 3 in the town of Bhopal.
Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Christians, told Asia News that the burnt statue was in the grotto of the parish of St. Joseph, around 10km from the local archbishop’s home.
In the 2011 census, 0.3 percent of Madhya Pradesh’s 77 million population were registered as Christians.
Just under 90 percent were Hindu.
Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have been on the increase in India across the last few years.
Earlier this year Open Doors USA, an organisation which serves persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, said India was the 10th most difficult place for Christians to practice in the world.
It also found that North Korea, Afghanistan and Somalia were the worst places for Christians.
The findings were released in the charity’s World Watch List of the places where Christians are most at risk from persecution worldwide.
Open Doors UK and Ireland CEO Henrietta Blyth said: “It’s shocking that India – the country which taught the world the way of ‘non-violence’ – now sits alongside the likes of Iran on our World Watch List.
“For many Christians in India, daily life is now full of fear – totally different from just four or five years ago.”