MPs write to Indian PM, HM on non-extension of visa to missionaries

Correspondent Shillong,
The Indian government have reportedly refused to give extension visas to Christian missionaries, forcing two Indian parliamentarians – Vincent H.Pala and Conrad K.Sangma – to take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Pala, a former Union Minority Affairs Minister on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally intervene on persecution of Christians in India.
The Congress parliamentarian also appealed to Prime Minister to allow foreign Christian missionaries to stay in India and to continue to do their social and educational service for the poor.
“I need to hardly underscore the increasing incidents of hate and violence against Christians in the country despite the community being peace loving, harmonious and contributing its mite to the nation building,” Pala stated in his letter to Modi.
“As part of this ongoing discrimination against Christians, long living members of the community in India from other nations, who contribute immensely to education and social work especially while working amidst underprivileged sections of the society to whom you and your party personnel committed, are being hounded and asked to leave the Country,” the letter stated.
Sangma, who is the lone National People’s Party member in Lok Sabha, also wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking his intervention into visa problems faced by the missionaries.
“There are many instances where many missionaries have faced problems in getting their visas extended, which was not in the past, which has led to lot of confusion and difficulties for these missionaries who has been working tirelessly for the poor and needy of our Country,” Sangma stated in his letter.
In their separate letters, Pala and Sangma also mentioned the names of four prominent missionaries working in different states – Ignacio Galdos Zuazua (working in Gujarat), Laurel Judith Seaton (working in Bihar) and Aurele Andre A. Brys and Chen Chin Mou (both working in Jharkhand).
India experienced an escalation of attacks on its Christian minority in 2016, usually led by Hindu nationalists acting largely with impunity, according to Open Doors, an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches worldwide, said.
Just over 2% of the country’s population is Christian, and nearly 80% of Indians are Hindu.
“There was also an increase in Christian persecution across the region driven by extreme religious nationalism, which is often tacitly condoned – and sometimes actively encouraged – by local and national governments,” the Open Doors stated.
The watchdog estimated that a church was burnt down or a cleric beaten on average 10 times a week in India, it stated.