10/03/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka, police force closure of two Pentecostal churches

by Nirmala Carvalho
It happened in the districts of Hassan and Bangalore. Behind reports from Hindu extremists, local police accused the pastors of not having permission to worship and of practicing forced conversions. Since the beginning of 2011, 36 anti-Christian incidents in Karnataka. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Reign of terror against the Christian minority continues."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Out of a population of 52.8 million people in Karnataka, Christians are little more than a million. Yet "Hindu extremists with the complicity of the authorities continue their reign of terror against defenseless a Christian community”, says Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). His comments come on the heels of the closure of two Pentecostal churches in the districts of Hassan and Bangalore, on 25 September. In both cases, the police intervention followed complaints from radical Hindu groups. With these latest episodes, the number of anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka in 2011 alone now stand at 36.

Since 2008 the Government of Karnataka is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ultra-nationalist party that supports groups and movements of Hindu extremists belonging to the Sangh Parivar, such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the Bajrang From.

In the district of Bangalore, the police took into custody Hulimavu the pastor of Church of God Full Gospel, based on numerous complaints that accuse him of not having permission to carry out regular worship and of practicing forced conversions. According to the president of the GCIC, during the interrogation the police inspector Balram Gowda "threatened the pastor in a clear fashion and ordered to close the church or he would be arrested."

The same day in Bagesafleshpur (Hassan district), Hindu extremists stormed the Pentecostal Church End Times Full Harvest Church, beating Pastor John Frederick D'Souza and some ladies who tried to intervene, ripping Bibles from the hands of those present and throwing them on the ground. Then, the attackers called the police, who on arriving ordered the pastor to end the prayer service and close the church. Again, the police claimed a lack of regular religious practice permits and forced conversions.

"The Pentecostal pastors were systematically beaten and threatened - Sajan George charges - dragged into police stations with false accusations; arrested and locked up. Often without even the option of bail. And now, the followers of these churches have no Sunday service. "

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