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Christians denied right to vote in Indian state

Church leaders in the southern Indian state of Kerala are accusing the Communist state government of denying them identity cards required to be able to vote in state elections.

The Tablet reports that the elections are due to take place in the first week of May.

'It is harassment', said Archbishop George Valliamattam of Tellicherry, who asserted that in a democracy it was the right of every person to vote.

Cases of denying the voting rights of Catholics had been reported in Kannur, which is part of his Syro-Malabar diocese. He wanted the Government to explain why Christians should be discriminated against in Communist-dominated areas.

Sr Vachana, of St Sebastian's convent in Cherupuzha parish, said she and 14 other nuns went to the local election office several times with application forms, but each time 'they sent us back, saying they were busy'.

K.R. Jyotilal, Kannur's administrative head, said strict action would be taken against officials who refused electoral cards to eligible voters. He discounted allegations of discrimination and said he would look into complaints by church leaders.