Srinagar (Matters India): The minuscule Christian community living in the Kashmir valley is leading a quiet life and feeling neglected. Even as the 2011 census stated that the population of Christians had witnessed an increase of around 75 percent from 2001 with 11,857 of them living in the Valley, members of the community say they are “on the verge of extinction”.
“The figures had surprised us….our population in Kashmir is hardly 650. In fact, we are on the verge of extinction as almost all our youngsters leave the Valley after passing 12th class… we do not get jobs here. Unemployment is a major issue that we are facing,” said Rev Vino Koul, priest at the All Saints Church, Sonwar.
He said the Valley Christians were not being “duly recognized” by the government. They had brought their problems to the notice of the government, but otherwise they prefer to keep a low profile and hardly bring forward their concerns before the media or other forums, added Koul.
The main reason behind keeping a low profile is the conversion row that came to the fore in 2011-2012 when four missionaries were accused of ‘luring’ Muslim youth to Christianity following which the Sharia Court had issued a fatwa.
Though Christians continue to perform their religious and other duties as per past practice, Koul said the conversion row came as a setback for them, The Tribune reported.
Another Christian wishing anonymity said their community was living in a shell and did not mix that well with the majority like other minorities such as Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs.
He said most of them were working with Christian schools and their youth preferred to study and work outside the state. He said the Christians also preferred to live a “silent life” and avoided forming bodies like other minorities of the Valley to highlight their issues.
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina, who for the past many years has been fighting for the rights of minorities in the Valley, too said that Christians preferred to keep a low profile in the Valley.
He the APSCC was in touch with Christians and many of them supported its demand for implementation of the minorities Act in J&K.