It was held at Jantar Mantar near Parliament, and included many Christian leaders, including All India Christian Council (AICC) president Joseph D’souza, AICC secretary general Dr. John Dayal, Bishop Karam Masih of the Church of North India, and principal of Mount Carmel School in Delhi V.K. Williams. They warned Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh that his silence could lead to killing of innocent people at the hands of Hindu extremists.

The police rounded up and detained about 4,000 participants in the rally later in the day, but the crowd left the Parliament Street police station at 2:15 p.m. after an official announced that there was not enough room in the jails to keep such a huge number of people.

“This was the first time since November 1997 that such large numbers of Christians have been arrested in the Parliament Street police station. It was incredible to see Catholic nuns, Protestant pastors, civil society activists and more singing Christian songs of liberation within the police station,” said Dayal, member of the National Integration Council of the Government of India.

The rally participants, who were from several states, including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, shouted slogans against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by the Congress party, saying, “wake up and stop atrocities on Christians”.

Rev. Madhu Chandra, regional secretary of the AICC, explained that in 2006, the AICC recorded at least one anti-Christian attack every three days, “but this rose to one attack every alternate day during the first four months of this year.”

A majority of attacks on Christians are led by groups associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps or RSS), which is also the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Christian organizations estimate that more than 100 anti-Christian attacks have taken place this year thus far.

Also present at the rally were victims of communal violence, including Jaipur pastor Walter Masih, who walked up to the stage limping due to an injury sustained in an attack.

“We have asked the authorities to publicly condemn the attacks on peace-loving Indian Christians. We have appealed to the chief ministers and police administration of various states besides writing open letters to the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, but we have not received any response from any of these,” lamented Dayal.

International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org