03/05/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka: Pentecostal clergyman beaten and arrested for 'proselytising'

by Nirmala Carvalho
Hindu nationalists interrupt Sunday service and drag the pastor and his wife to prison. This is the second time the community is attacked. Police is in league with extremists and the BJP, which rules the state. Since the start of the year, six anti-Christian attacks have occurred. In 2011, they were 49.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Another attack was perpetrated against a Christian church in Karnataka, the sixth since the start of the year. Yesterday, about 30 Hindu extremists burst into the New Life Pentecostal Church of Ankola, North Kanara District, disrupting the ongoing Sunday service, and insulted those present.

After seizing Rev K Manohar, they accused of proselytising and forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity. After beating him, they dragged him and his wife to the Ankola police station. Thanks to the intervention of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), she was released around 8 pm, but the clergyman remained in custody on charges "of offending religious sentiments."

Speaking to AsiaNews, GCIC president Sajan K George said police and Hindutva (Hindu radical) activists are in collusion. "Karnataka police is quick to charge and arrest innocent Christians on the bases of accusations invented by Sangh Parivar extremists. The collusion between police, extremists and their political bosses has created a climate of fear and insecurity among Christian communities." The Sangh Parivar is an umbrella term for Hindu nationalist organisations.

Karnataka has been government by Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2008. The party backs Hindu nationalism and extremist groups. Last year, some 49 attacks were recorded against Christians and Christian communities around the state.

"In Karnataka, Christians do not even have the right to pray in their homes," Sajan K George lamented. "This is the second time Rev Manohar has been attacked. Nothing has been done against radicals who break the law, violate the privacy of people's home and attack innocent people."

"Since 2008; since the BJP came to power that is, religious freedom and the security of the Christian minority have been constantly threatened, the GCIC president said.

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