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A fact-finding team of four U.S. congressmen has raised hopes among Indian Christian leaders fighting persecution.

After a weeklong tour in January requested by Indian Christians, Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) expressed shock at the persecution. We are touched by the suffering of the Christian and Muslim minorities at the hands of Hindu extremists here, Pitts said.

The team will take up with both U.S. and Indian authorities the countrys controversial anti-conversion laws, the status of oppressed Dalits, and violence against minorities. The All-India Christian Council (AICC), with help from Jubilee Campaign, organized the delegations visit.

We learned about the Dalits, 250 million people who are suffering in almost indescribable, inhumane ways, Pitts said. This is a great human rights tragedy.

According to police records, the number of reported attacks on Christians in India rose from seven in 1996 to 380 in 2003. Unofficial estimates put last years number at 600.

Related Elsewhere:

More information is available from the All-India Christian Council.

More on Christians in India includes:

Blockbuster Evangelism | Millions have been converted after seeing films about Jesus, and Hindu radicals are responding with violence. (Nov. 26, 2003)
Hindu Leaders Crack Down on Conversions | Potential converts must ask permission (Oct. 13, 2003)
Weblog: Bogus Claims of Abuse Leveled Against Martyred Missionary (June 13, 2003)
Power in Punjab | Christians see churches—and opposition—grow among Sikhs. (June 18, 2003)
Fending off Hindutva | Indian Christians blast Nazi-like survey, "draconian" conversion law. (May 16, 2003)
Gujarat Religious Survey Troubles Indian Christians | Government of Indian state says it has been gathering statistics on the minority ...
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