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Indian Christians criticise PM's anti-christian statement

Christians have back at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's remark on Saturday that the motive behind Christian charity work in India is conversion.

"We are deeply distressed at reports in which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee alleges that Christian missionaries are making conversions in the guise of service," said a statement issued by Catholic bishops attending the northern regional Catholic Council meeting on Sunday.

Catholic World News reports that the Catholic bishops regretted in particular the fact that the statement was been made at a function lauding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [a Hindu fundamentalist group] and in the presence of those political leaders who are leading the hate campaign against the Christian community in India.

They said that remarks "condoning the hate campaign and the canards, lies and half-truths that are being spread in many parts of the country" will only encourage further hate campaigns, said the bishops.

The anti-Christian propaganda, they said, is in fact "designed to curtail our social inputs in education, health, and the uplifting of marginalised segments".

For its part, the All India Christian Council said on Monday that secular India has been "taken aback at the aspersions that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has cast on Christian service to the nation".

Meanwhile there was chaos in Parliament on Monday with the opposition parties taking Vajpayee to task for the anti-Christian remark pointing out that the "hidden agenda" of the government was coming out in the open.