04/26/2011, 00.00
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Karnataka: Hindu extremists attack two Protestant churches on Good Friday

Club-wielding Hindu radicals from the Sangh Parivar storm prayer halls in Bagalkot and Devangere districts, order the faithful to reconvert to Hinduism. The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians calls for greater minority protection, criticising police inaction.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “Anti-Christian attacks on Good Friday are an affront to the secular credentials of our country and a grave offence to the dignity, religious freedom and peaceful civil coexistence of the people,” Sajan K George said. The president of Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC) was reacting to the latest episodes of violence by Hindu extremists against Protestant communities in Bagalkot and Davangere (Karnataka). The activist calls on the central government to protect the country’s minorities and wants justice for the victims of violence, whose plight is often ignored by police.

Last Friday, nearly 50 club-wielding Hindu extremists from the Sangh Parivar stormed the prayer hall of a Pentecostal community in Bagalkot district. At the time, worshippers were celebrating Good Friday services.

The radicals attacked Revs Ashok Motilal Powar and Gurappa Powar. They insulted two clergymen, accusing them of forcing people to convert for money. Likewise, they ordered members of the congregation to reconvert to Hinduism. The extremists left the building two hours later.

During the attack, Rev Ashok Molital was injured. Later, members of his community took him to the emergency ward of a local hospital for treatment.

Whilst the incident was unfolding, police stood idly by, Sajan George said. In fact, when a formal complaint was filed with the authorities, police rejected the complaint of the Pentecostal community.

In Davangere district, extremists targeted the Bethel Church, whose members were also meeting for Good Friday services. Around 11 am (local time), attackers forced the door to the prayer hall, disrupting the worship service, Sajan George explained.

They proceeded to beat up Rev Umesh Nayak in front of the 30 worshippers present in the hall. They also tore up Bibles and prayer books, and then locked the clergyman and six members of the community inside the building for six hours. Only when GCIC got involved, demanding police do something did the latter move in.

For the GCIC president, the two incidents are additional examples of a wave of intolerance falling on Christian churches and charities, both Protestant and Catholic, in a number of districts across the state. Another example involved the Catholic Stella Maris convent in Ullal. (NC)

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