04/11/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka: New wave of violence and attacks on Christians. Complicity of authorities

by Nirmala Carvalho
Hindu fundamentalists burst into a Protestant church, and block the religious service. Police arrest four faithful of the 'New India Church of God. " On April 8, the Stella Maris monastery attacked. Bishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza: "They are envious of our social work ... so they try to frighten the Christian missionaries, and invent false allegations. We are not treated as second-class citizens but as enemies. "

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Christians are again under attack in Karnataka, targeted by Hindu extremists by police, complicit with the fundamentalists. Sajan K. George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) condemns this new surge of intolerance in an interview with AsiaNews: "The police yesterday arrested 9 believers of the ‘New India Church of God’, at Mysore , Karnataka after around  25, Bajrang Dal Activists stormed the church  while the Sunday morning service was on. .  The Hindu Fundamentalists barged into the church, forcibly stopped the service and began abusing the believers, using the filthiest language.  Religious Freedom is our Constitutional Right and here in Karnataka is seems that the Christians are being threatened, attacked and harassed for their Faith and Practice of our Charitable Works.  The Bajrang Dal collude with officials to terrorize Christian institutions in Karnataka".

The President of GCIC notes that this is the second round of a series of planned attacks against Christian institutions in Karnataka, which began in April, triggered by Barjrangis and their accomplices. The first took place in August and September of 2008. The latest attack happened on 8 April on the Catholic convent "Stella Maris" in Ullal. "The other attacks were against Ashray, a charitable foundation of social services for young people led by Lancelot Pinto, and against prayer hall-cum-hostel run by Pastor Joy in Haleyangady, and the false allegation of conversion on the owner of Jillus Caterers.  All have been pre-planned and falsely targeted by elements of the Sangh Parivar to malign the charitable works of the Christians. GCIC appeals to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and to the Hon Chief minister Yeddyurappa to reign in these Hinduvta extremists who are anti social elements who are causing communal disharmony and also a law and order problem”.

Sajan K. George adds: " GCIC strongly condemns the statement of the VHP leader M B Puranik who stated that the root cause for conversion was the colonial rule that brought in a number of British and Portuguese missionaries to India, whose activities are continuing to this day.

For Centuries, Christian Missionaries has selfless served the poorest people in the most remotest rural of the country, empowering the people in the Fields of Education and Health and Development. The Missionaries have tirelessly worked for enabling the marginalised with Human Dignity and Self Reliance. The Government Census proves that Conversion Activities are merely Baseless and Fabricated Allegation levelled against the Christians as the Christian population of India is merely 2.34% of the entire population”.

The Bishop of Mangalore, Mons. Aloysius Paul D'Souza, has taken a position. In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews, he says: " We are not only saddened but we also feel helpless,  The Bajrang Dal without any rhyme or reason attack us and our institutions and malign our good works. It is almost as if they enjoy the patronage of the administration, and so they are undeterred and emboldened in their malicious campaign against our works of service to the poor and downtrodden and illiterate and marginalised section of society.  Our complaints go unheard and the harassment against our Institutions continue unabated.  It is almost as if they are dictating terms to the Government".

On the morning of 8 April 41 children housed at the Stella Maris monastery of Ullal were going to home to Bidar, a poor rural area of the diocese of Gulbaraga. Their families are landless, illiterate. For over 30 years, Stella Maris convent has worked to help educate the children of that area. "While the children were waiting for the bus with sister Asha Press, the Bajrang Dal activists gathered near the bus stop and called the police, who arrived and took the bus and children to the Remand Home, in Bondel, where the little ones, terrified, were held a few hours. More than 50 officers were around the Remand home as they made their investigations. However, the Stella Maris monastery had all the documents and permits in order. But intimidation, attacks and threats continue”.

The bishop explains why Hindu fundamentalists attack the Church: "These fundamentalists are Jealous of our social ministry, because they know, that once these poor people get education and become self reliant and  they become aware of their Rights and this empowerment of the poor is a threat – these groups are unable to oppress and exploit the poorest sections whom we serve.  Hence, they want to frighten the Christian missionaries, harass our Social Ministry, make fabricated and baseless conversion activities.  We are not just being treated as second class citizens, but as enemies. "

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