09/09/2011, 00.00
INDIA

Karnataka boys beaten and arrested for having converted to Christianity

by Nirmala Carvalho
Hindu nationalists have denounced Bhasker and Hemanth Naik of practicing forced conversions, because the refused to return to Hinduism. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians: "The authorities' political survival depends on the fundamentalist forces, the situation is increasingly worrying."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - It is a cause "serious concern" to see how Christians are "regularly" attacked in Karnataka by Hindu nationalists, while the authorities "turn a blind eye, because their political survival depends on these forces”, denounces Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), in the face of yet another case of violence and abuse against two Christians held responsible for forced conversions.

Bhasker Naik, 20 years, and Hemanth Naik, 22, from the village Mank (North Kanara district), worked for over a year in the town of Udupi, employed in a private company. About six months ago, the boys began to follow the sermons of Pastor Sadananda, of the Church of Christ Fellowship in Hirebettu, and converted to Christianity. On 7 September the two returned to their village, but some activists of the Bajrang Dal (ultra-nationalist Hindu youth wing), learned of their conversion, started beating them and insulting them, telling them to return to Hinduism.

Faced with the refusal of Bhasker and Hemanth to deny Christ, Hindu activists reported them to Honnavar police for forced conversions. The inspector Venkatappa conducted a brief investigation, and arrested them. The two Christians are still in prison.

"From May 2008 - accuses Sajan George - when the BJP came to power in Karnataka, freedom of worship for the Christian community is under threat, even in private homes. Our places of worship are under constant control of fundamentalist forces, who systematically stop prayer services and beat pastors and faithful. While the police are increasingly available and hasty in arresting and imprisoning Christians. "
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