Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at a function being organised in the Capital early next week to celebrate the elevation of two beatified members of the church – Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Euphrasia – to sainthood.
This will be the first time that Mr. Modi will come face-to-face with a sizeable Christian gathering after a spate of attacks and alleged vandalism at several churches in the city over the past two months. A similar function was held in West Delhi’s Hari Nagar earlier this month.
Large sections from several minority communities settled in the Capital are understood to have played a decisive role in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poll debacle in response to as many as five attacks on churches – the latest just days before Delhi went to polls – and the Delhi Police's attempts at “projecting these as routine break-ins aimed at petty theft”.
The event will be hosted by the Diocese of Faridabad-Delhi, which, according to a statement from its organisers, was established by Pope Benedict XVI on March 6, 2012, with a jurisdiction across north India.
Though the organisers claimed that the Catholic Bishops Conference of India was among the Christian organisations involved in hosting the programme, CBCI spokesman Joseph Chinnayyan told The Hindu that they were not involved.
Mr. Modi’s participation at the function has raised eyebrows within certain sections of the community; coming as it does in the wake of the church attacks over which he has till date not spoken a word despite repeated appeals from within and outside the community. Some church leaders indicated that by inviting the Prime Minister, the organisers were providing him a platform to break his silence on the attacks on churches.
According to Delhi Police statistics, at least nine city churches were attacked between 2012 and 2014. The latest among these incidents was reported from South Delhi’s Vasant Kunj on February 2.
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