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Hindu vigilante groups disrupt Christmas celebrations on Modi territory


Hardline Hindu vigilante groups disrupted Christmas mass in parts of India, including in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s core territory ahead of local elections in the coming months, media reported on Monday.

The disruption of Christmas celebrations at the weekend and last week included the vandalising of a life-size statue of Jesus Christ at Ambala in Haryana, a northern state governed by Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), The Hindu newspaper said.

It also reported activists burnt a model of Santa Claus and chanted slogans against Christmas celebrations and religious conversions on Saturday outside a church in Varanasi, Modi’s parliamentary constituency and Hinduism’s holiest city.

Anoop Shramik, a social activist in Varanasi, told Reuters he saw about two dozen people burning the Santa Claus.

Contacted by telephone, the federal and state governments declined to comment.

On Saturday, Christmas celebrations were also disrupted in Silchar, eastern Assam, after men, claiming to be members of Bajrang Dal – a right-wing group with close ties to BJP, forced their way into a church, NDTV, a local news channel reported.

Leader of the main opposition Congress party and prominent members of minority Christian groups urged Modi to act.

“The PM should direct the BJP governments of Haryana and Assam to identify the miscreants and bring them before a Court of law,” P Chidambaram, India’s former finance minister and a senior Congress leader, said in a tweet.

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