12/02/2006, 00.00
INDIA

At least 200 attacks against Christians in 2006

by Nirmala Carvalho

The attacks were denounced by the Global Council of Indian Christians, which held a rally today in Bangalore to call for respect of religious freedom in the country. The council supplied a list of attacks against Christians, who are targeted by Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) – Christians in India suffered at least 200 attacks between January and November this year. Incidents range from profaning places of worship to the murder of representatives of this minority community. The charge was made by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which this morning organized a peaceful gathering to raise awareness about the situation and to pray for an end to abuses of human rights, especially religious freedom, in the Union.

In a press statement, the organizers outlined the reasons for the gathering and emphasized a worrying increase in attacks in the state of Karnataka. Here, most victims have been Dalits – outcastes – and tribals, mostly of violence perpetrated by an organization of Hindu fundamentalists, the Sangh Parivar. However, Muslim fundamentalists are also responsible for their share of attacks.

The GCIC drew attention to one of the latest examples of such violence: the cold blooded murder of Bashir Tantray, one of its social workers in Srinagar. The man was killed at the end of November by Muslim extremists who had threatened him on previous occasions. In a final gesture of contempt, he was buried in a Muslim cemetery. The council urged the police to carry out an in-depth investigation into his murder.

In the statement, the council listed a long list of attacks suffered by Christians, including:

-         26 November, murder of a Christian, Jacob, in Myelapore

-         9 June, murder of Pastor Prem Kumar in Nizamababad

-         Attempts to forcibly convert Christians to Hinduism in Orissa and Karnataka

-         Attack on Carmelite Church in Bangalore

-         Attacks on St Anthony School in Bangalore

-         7 May, assassination attempt against Pastor Paul Joseph

-         16 September, Pastor Job Gowribiddanur attacked

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