07/19/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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India, growing religious intolerance against Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
In Karnataka, a Pentecostal pastor was beaten by Hindu ultra-nationalists and detained for forced conversions. In Maharashtra, Hindu activists attacked the tribal Christians. A church under construction in Haryana destroyed. All on the same day.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Three new anti-Christian attacks in three different States testify to "the sad increase of religious intolerance" in India. This is the opinion of Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), given the episodes of violence committed by Hindu ultra-nationalists in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Haryana, which all occurred on July 15 last.

The most serious incident happened in the village of Sainagara (Karnataka). Rev. Nathaniel Shubas, pastor of Immanuel Pentecostal Prayer Hall, held a prayer service, attended by about twenty people. During the sermon, witnesses say they saw a man enter, record what the pastor was saying, and leave shortly after. Within ten minutes, this person came back accompanied by more than 20 activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, groups that constitute the "armed wing" of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu ultra-nationalist party). These began to beat and insult Rev. Shubas, and then dragged him for over a kilometer to the Vidyanagara police station. They accused him of practicing forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity. The officers arrested the man on the basis of art. 295A ("Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs ").

The second episode of violence occurred in the tribal village of Thavalpada (Maharashtra). About ten Hindus attacked 50 Christians, who were singing devotional songs. The attackers were led by Eknath Jhugare, local BJP leader. Unlike Karnataka, this time the police arrested the attackers.

Also on July 15, in Dabar Patli village (Sirsa district, Haryana) Hindus demolished a Pentecostal Church under construction, the Messiah Samiti, arguing that most of the villagers were opposed to its construction.

For Sajan George, it is evident that the "ultra-nationalist Hindu groups feel increasingly free to attack the Christians in their places of prayer even during services. The growing political protection they enjoy is of great concern."

 

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