Washington, Sept.26 : About 100 people, holding placards staged a protest in front of the White House on Thursday to get the attention of visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of attacks on Christians in India. Indians and Americans clustered under a forest of umbrellas, several of those standing in Lafayette Park waved signs such as "Stop the Gang Rape of Nuns" and "Shame on India." "The government is taking no action," said Christy John, an Indian pharmacologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who clutched a sign saying: "Stop the Killing of Priests and Nuns." "The police know beforehand of the attacks, but they show up after the fact," he said.
At least 26 people have died and 3,000 Christian homes have been destroyed along with 134 houses of worship, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which on Monday asked President Bush to press Dr. Singh to stop the month-long killing spree.
Bernard Malik, the president of the Federation of Indian Christian Organizations of North America, put the number of dead at 58. Several Catholic clergy attended the demonstrations, and retired Washington Auxiliary Bishop Leonard Olivier denounced the killings as "unbelievable carnage."
The Indian Embassy and the Hindu American Foundation did not immediately return calls asking for comment.
The violence began August 23, when Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a member of the Hindu fundamentalist organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was killed along with four disciples.
Although the Indian Government claimed that revolutionary Maoists were the killers, many Hindus blamed Christians, saying it was a revenge attack for widespread religious violence against Christians last December.
At least 35 Christian sites were attacked in Orissa.
The violence then spread to the neighboring state of Madhya Pradesh, where a convent of Carmelite nuns was attacked and the cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Jabalpur was set on fire. Pope Benedict XVI condemned the attacks on August 27 and on August 29, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India closed all 25,000 Catholic schools across the country to protest the government's seeming inability to stop the violence.