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Christian Community Unhappy with the BRS Government

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sanjay Samuel Paul

Published on: July 27, 2023 | Updated on: July 28, 2023

St George's church at Abids. (File Photo)

HYDERABAD: Members of the Christian community expressed unhappiness with the BRS government for not fulfilling promises, with a delegation of leaders meeting minorities minister Koppula Eshwar and principal secretary (minorities) Syed Omer Jaleel to list out unkept promises.

In the meeting where A.K. Khan, former police commissioner and adviser to government on minority affairs, was present, community members said they have lost hope in the government keeping its promise, despite them accounting for 19 per cent of the state’s population.

Among their chief complaints was the failure to set up a Christian Minority Finance Corporation, as previous governments did.

Another key concern was the failure of the government to hand over land for graveyards for the community. In November 2019, the minister had promised to allocate 60 acres across locations in GHMC limits.

Members of the community accused the government of treating them as "second-class citizens", reminding the government that despite Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao's promise to hold talks with them around Christmas time, every year, it had failed to materialise.

Roydin Roach, who was part of the delegation, said, "The community stressed that other minority communities are given a separate budget, but the Christian community is just given 10 per cent of the Muslim community’s budget. We literally have to beg for it. In the last budget, the allocation for social welfare was removed and Christians were added to the Muslim community."

He said, "We want an assurance from the Chief Minister in the form of a GO for construction of churches without hassles and through an easy process, like that of other communities. Also, we want a separate budget for the community."

Dr K. Paul Marx, a youth Christian leader, said: "Among the issues was a discussion on the safety of the community, given that pastors are being beaten up by antisocial elements. Strict action needs to be taken. Also, it was mentioned that permission was not granted to conduct religious events for the Christian community when other communities were allowed to freely do so."

Dr Marx said, "Allocation of two minority residential schools, as per old districts, for the Christian community was discussed. The Chief Minister promised a subsidy for travel to holy land, but there has been no delivery on it."

Caleb Rayapati, a Christian representative, said: "Christian Bhavan was changed from one location to the other and finally, two acres were granted, compared to smaller communities for whom larger lands were allocated. It was also informed to the minister that other communities were called for discussions, with regards to the requirement and design of the Bhavan, but for the Christian community, there was no such interaction."

Goneh Solomon Raj, another delegate, said: "We, the representatives, request the minister to kindly fill the vacant nominated position, as the same request was made many times but without result."

What Christians want

Christians say they constitute 19 per cent of the state’s population but are ignored but are treated as second-class citizens. They presented a list of demands to the government on Thursday. The key elements are:

Setting up Christian Minority Finance Corporation.

Land for graveyards not handed over.

Meeting with Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, promised every year, has not fructified.

Separate budget of the community.

GO for construction of churches without hassles; safety for community.

Two minority residential schools per undivided districts.