Hardline Hindu group calls for a Christian-free India

Om Swami Maharaj, a controversial Hindu leader, known for his Hindutva or hardline Hindu views, led a group of approximately 20 people to trample a printed poster of Pope Francis near Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. His group has repeatedly chanted for Christians to be booted out of India. Om Swami Maharaj and his followers shouted “Pope Francis murdabad” while defacing the photograph. The phrase translates into English as “down with Pope Francis.” The Hindu right leader accused the Indian Christian community of promotion of terrorism. He also linked Christians with Maoist activities.

The video quickly garnered a Christian groups' attention in central India. Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, spokesman Richard James, said the police have been informed of the video. James said, "This kind of public display of hate toward any religious group or leader would not be allowed in a civilized society.”

The police agreed. Jaideep Prasad, Inspector General of Police in Bhopal, the capital city of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, said law enforcement "will not allow anyone to spread discord among people with such videos.” Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh is a Madhya Pradesh headquartered ecumenical Christian forum. It functions all over India.

The hate-filled video started to circulate on social media only a few weeks after Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi wrote a letter requesting a prayer campaign for India’s general elections next year. The content states that India is presently witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere. These conditions are a threat to the democratic principles embedded in the Indian constitution.

Archbishop Couto asked Catholics resident in New Delhi through the letter to fast for one meal every Friday for 2019. He urged them to do this sacrifice for India's spiritual renewal. He asked every parish to host a holy hour every Friday for Eucharistic Adoration. The event sees India consecrated to the Our Lady of Fatima. Response to this letter was immediate. The party at the center, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) immediately condemned it.

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