11/04/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Bishops ask Karnataka chief minister for justice for arrested Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
A delegation led by the Archbishop of Bangalore repeats request to close the cases of 150 young Christians under investigation to the State's Prime Minister. In Karnataka, the persecution continues, with the complicity of the police. 37 cases of aggression recorded since the beginning of the year.
Bangalore (AsiaNews) - On October 28 a delegation of bishops of Karnataka, led by the Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras, and the Bishop of Mangalore Aloysius Paul D'Souza met Prime Minister Sadananda Gowda to ask him to withdraw all cases pending against some young Christians. Archbishop Moras, and the President of the United Christian Forum of Karnataka have demanded that the cases should be withdrawn at the earliest possible because 150 innocent young people are subjected to investigations and limits on their personal freedom.

Archbishop Moras reminded that Interior Minister Ashok, after consultation with the then Prime Minister Yeddyurappa had promised that there would be action within 45 days, but still nothing has happened. He asked the Prime Minister to put the issue on the agenda at the next meeting of the State Government. The Prime Minister had promised Archbishop Moras and the Bishop of Mangalore, that he would withdraw the cases against the young as soon as possible. Sadananda Gowda said he understood the anxiety of the Christian community, but that the withdrawal of charges takes time because the police reports must be verified by the prosecutor and the government must take the final decision.

On 10 October a group affiliated to the Global Council of Indian Christians, the Christian Okkutta Bharath (India's Christian Association) met with the Governor of Karnataka, HR Bhardwaj, asking for his intervention to control the ties between politicians, police and government officials in the persecution against evangelical pastors and their flocks in the State. "After open and dare-devil attacks against us throughout the state during the last three and odd years, now the same fanatics use subtler and more cunning methods to undermine and subjugate Christians in the state, allegedly because of forcible and fraudulent conversions of Hindus to Christianity," the delegation expressed in a memorandum to the Governor. According to the association, the police is an accomplice of the fanatics, "selecting Christian targets and their congregations in some areas of the state."

The memorandum highlights attacks on house churches and states that the police often work in agreement with the Sangh Parivar extremists. "Sometimes the police themselves, without cause, would enter and disrupt celebrations, attacking the participants, arresting and holding pastors in jail for hours, and charging them under various pretexts."

Sajan K George, president of the GCIC, told AsiaNews that it is regrettable that in spite of numerous meetings with the Prime Minister the climate of terrorism continues against Christian communities, and justice for the victims of the wave of violence against the Christian community is slow and ineffective. The GCIC reported 37 attacks against Christians in Karnataka since January of this year.
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