02/04/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Another church ransacked in Karnataka

by Nirmala Carvalho
At two o'clock this morning a group of vandals ransacked the church of St. Matthias Malavalli in the district of Mandya. Since the beginning of this is the sixth attack in the state of Karnataka. Attackers desecrated a crucifix, the statues destroyed and stole the hosts in the tabernacle. Once again it is feared the hand of Hindu extremists. The parish priest of the Church invites the faithful to forgive the vandals.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Attacks against Christians continue in the state of Karnataka. Last night at about two in the morning a group of unidentified people broke into the church of St. Matthias in Malavalli (Mandya district). According to local sources, the vandals desecrated a crucifix, destroyed the statues in the nave, broke windows and stole valuables. Not even the musical instruments were spared.  

"The vandals entered in the middle of the night breaking in the door to the presbytery - said Fr M Anthappa parish priest of the church of S. Matthias - They ransacked the church, stealing the chalice and monstrance. "The vandals – he adds - also emptied the tabernacle stealing the pyx and consecrated hosts. And this is what has offended our religious sentiments most. Even the crown of the statue of St. Matthias was stolen”. Fr. Anthappa however has urged the faithful to forgive those who have carried out this act and says that he will pray to God for their salvation and conversion.

Since the beginning of the year this is the 6th attack on a house of worship in Karnataka. On January 25 two churches were attacked in the diocese of Karwar and Inkal. While the identity of the vandals is still not known, the main suspect in the attacks are extremists Hindus of the Sri Rama Sene, a far-right nationalist party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state government of Karnataka.

On 1 February the Board of Inquiry (Justice BK Somashekara Inquiry commission) to guide investigations of attacks against Christians presented a report which accused the district police and administration of covering for the perpetrators of the attacks. The document is in fact critical of the local government ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP, the party already accused of massacres against Christians in the state of Orissa in 2008.

"These kinds of attacks are not just attacks on minorities – says Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of India - but affect the secular fabric of our society, human rights, the inalienable right to religious freedom, a right which is guaranteed by the Indian constitution”. According to Sajan George religious extremism has "shredded" the constitution, rendering Karnataka a state that protects criminals. "The Republic of India – he continues - risks self-destruction because of this bigotry in our society, which has taken office in Karnataka and does nothing but destroy the sacred values of democracy."

 

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