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    » 12/12/2008, 00.00

    INDIA

    Risk of anti-Christian violence in Orissa but also in Karnataka during Christmas



    A delegation from the Bishops’ Conference meets the Home Affairs minister to express “great apprehension” over the risk of anti-Christian attacks during the Christmas holidays. The All Indian Christian Council releases a report on violence that took place in Karnataka between August and October, resulting in 48 incidents, 53 injured and more than 30 places of worship attacked.
    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Fr Joseph Babu, spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of India, expressed “great apprehension” in a meeting Wednesday between a Catholic Church delegation and Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram over a possible repeat this year of last year’s anti-Christian violence during Christmas celebrations. In response Union Home Affairs minister reassured the delegation that the state would ensure protection for Christians and their property in Orissa.

    Attacks against churches and the murder of Christians is not a problem limited to Orissa. Case in point: on Tuesday the All Indian Christian Council (AICC) released a report on anti-Christian violence in the state of Karnataka.

    The organisation, which is involved in protecting religious freedom and promoting the emancipation of Dalits, recorded 48 serious violent incidents from August to October. Over the same period 39 churches and Christian-owned houses were vandalised and 53 people injured in 14 of the state’s 29 districts, in particular the district Dakshina Kannada where some 30 places of worship or prayer were attacked.

    According to the AICC report, 11 Catholic churches and 19 meeting halls belonging to other Christian denominations were affected (pictured, police removing Hindu demonstrators after storming St Sebastian Church in Thokuttu, Mangalore).

    The highest incidence of violence was recorded on 14 September with 12 attacks in just a few hours in Mangalore and another six in neighbouring areas.

    Despite appeals to the authorities 16 of the 39 attacks against churches were recorded in the following days and weeks.

    A sore point highlighted in the AICC report on violence in Karnataka was the lack of responsiveness and effectiveness in government agencies.

    In presenting it, the council’s president, Joseph D’souza, also referred to the ‘Deendar Church bombers’ trial.

    On 29 November 23 people were found guilty for their involvement in a series of bomb attacks in 2000 against churches in the states of Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa.

    After eight years, justice was awarded to those who targeted Christian places of worship. We sincerely hope the Karnataka judgment will encourage state authorities to expedite investigations and arraignments of those guilty of violence against Christian property, pastors, lay persons, and, especially, women. Sadly, in many cases, policemen themselves are accused such as the assaults on peaceful female Christian protestors in Mangalore in September 2008. Delays in the administration of justice only encourage extremists who have increasingly targeted the Christian community,” AICC President Joseph D’souza said.

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    See also

    28/06/2007 INDIA
    State should stop sectarian violence, says bishop of Gandhinagar
    Huge crowds gather in Karnataka to protest attack against Father Pereira and other Christians. Mgr Fernandes says he was overwhelmed by the solidarity of the population, irrespective of caste or faith. The state must however act against the culprits who too often get away with it.

    10/09/2008 INDIA
    In Orissa Christians treated worse than animals, says Father Bernard
    As the situation gets back to normal amid fears and tensions, what happened is slowly emerging. Victims talk about the violence inflicted upon them, a true “attack against the sacredness and dignity of human life”. Beaten repeatedly and left unconscious for hours in the forest, Fr Bernard Digal tells his story.

    29/10/2009 INDIA
    Gujarat: State control of school hiring puts educational freedom at risk
    Officially, the reason is to ensure adequate training for teaching staff and avoid layoffs. Catholic Bishops’ spokesman Fr Babu says that it could undermine school autonomy.

    11/08/2005 INDIA
    Biggest Bible on display at the Chennai Book Fair


    01/09/2008 INDIA
    Pressures on Indian president to stop anti-Christian violence in Orissa
    Violence continues, unabated. Yesterday four churches were destroyed as violence spreads to Madya Pradesh and Karnataka.



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