Thousands of Christians were joined by Hindus and Muslims at a demonstration against the rising violence against believers and their places of worship on April 12 in Mumbai.
Eknath Shinde, the chief minister of Maharashtra, received a petition with 20 requests from the 7,000–8,000 participants made up of a federation of 80 Christian NGOs operating under the name Samast Christi Samaj (All Christian Community).
The petition stated that there were ongoing “waves of hate speech and targeted violence against religious leaders, desecration of places of worship, disruption of prayer services and restrictions on religious gatherings, and false accusations of forced and fraudulent religious conversions.”
Samast Christi Samaj spokesperson Dolphy D'Souza told UCA News that “We want to end the escalation of violence and attacks against the peace-loving Christian community by those using the unfounded accusation of conversion as an excuse.”
D'Souza also urged that the government refrain from passing the anti-conversion law in Maharashtra because vigilantes will target Christians without justification.
Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, who was present at the gathering, claimed that Christians had a significant effect on his ancestor.
The assaults on Christians, he argued, must end.
“If you are being attacked today, then tomorrow the whole of humanity could also be attacked. We will not let the tree of hate blossom. We will fight it with love,” he declared.
Gandhi claimed that his great-grandfather was inspired by Jesus because he gave his life not just for Christians but for all of humanity.
He emphasised, “We need to fight the poison of hate with the nectar of love.”
The founder and president of the Catholic Secular Forum, Joseph Dias, stated that if violence and assaults against Christians continue, there would be a larger demonstration the following time.
Irfan Ali Engineer, a Muslim leader who was present at the protest, stated, “This is a rally for peace by ending attacks against all minorities like Christians and Muslims under some pretext or other.”