09/01/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Assault on two Protestant churches in Karnataka. Police accused of aiding and abetting

The Global Council of Indian Christians attributes the attack to local leaders of Sangh Parivar, the Hindu movement accused of many acts of violence against Christians. For the past year the Indian state has been the scene of attacks especially against Protestant churches.

Bangalore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Two Protestant churches attacked, Bibles and prayer books destroyed or sequestered, pastors and believers threatened. This happened in the district of Tumkur in the state of Karnataka in southern India.   The crime is reported by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), which attributes the attack to members of the Sangh Parivar and accuse local police officers of aiding and abetting the violence.

 

Local sources say that in the late evening of 28 August, a group of Hindu radicals stormed the Gypsy Prayer Hall in Mavunakatte Palay. Led by three well-known activists (Rangantha, Ramalingayya Gowda and Ramesh) members of the Sangh Parivar were seen aboard a jeep along with three deputy superintendents of police, the chief inspector and deputy chief inspector of the district.  

The group has accused Hanuma Naik, the 33-year old pastor the place of worship, of forced conversions and deception, to the detriment of the local inhabitants. After having been beaten along with a student present at the time on the site,  police dragged Naik to the police station opening a case against him.

The GCIC reports that after the incursion in Mavunakatte Palay, some of the attackers directed their rage on the Baptist church in  Krupashraya. There too the scene was repeated. In the absence of the pastor, the group threatened his wife with punitive actions and confiscated Bibles and prayer books.  

The Sangh Parivar activists then stopped at the Protestant church of the International Cooperation Ministries (ICM) near Agrahar. They failed to cause any major harm given that the pastor barricaded himself into his house for fear of attacks.  

Karnataka has long been the scene of assaults and violence against Christians. Already in coincidence with the pogrom in Orissa last summer, the Indian state had recorded attacks on local churches and communities.  

Local sources say that the increase in violence has coincided with the coming power in state government of Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2009, Karnataka has recorded at least 10 attacks against Christians, the last dating back to August 11. Mainly Protestant churches are targeted in the attacks accused of carrying out forced conversions.

 

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