Police in India have been accused of “roughing up” people taking part in a peaceful protest against the persecution of Christians.
The allegations were made by a Catholic priest who described being thrown into security vans alongside women, children and religious Sisters.
Fr Dennis George, of the Archdiocese of New Delhi, said police arrived after 500 people gathered at the gate of the city’s Sacred Heart Cathedral to protest against anti-Christian violence.
Fr George told Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted Christians: “Three policemen tried to drag me away. But I resisted. Then, half a dozen of them lifted me up – with one even choking me by the neck – and put me in the police bus.”
He said the police grabbed him when he tried to intervene on behalf of Christians being physically threatened by security officials.
Fr George said: “When I saw police roughing up people and dragging even women into vans, I, in [my] cassock, moved forward to stop them.”
The protest last month came in response to attacks on five churches in the Indian capital within two months and a string of other acts of violence and intimidation against Christians all over the country.
The protestors were demonstrating against alleged government inaction to curb growing persecution of Christians in India.
Nearly two weeks after the protests, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, responded to the anti-Christian violence, stating: “My government will not allow any religious group belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly.”
Extremist Hindu radicals are being blamed for increased violence and harassment of Christians over the past months and have been emboldened by the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) triumph in the 2014 election which brought Mr Modi to power.