09/27/2010, 00.00
INDIA

Karnataka: police arrest Pentecostal pastor beaten by Hindu extremists

Nirmala Carvalho
During Sunday service Hindu extremists stormed the church, beat the Pastor, insulted and threatened those present. The police then arrested the pastor, on charges of having converted people. Anti-Christian violence a daily occurrence in the region.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - A Pentecostal pastor Shivanda Siddi was arrested in Karnataka yesterday, with the false accusation of forcing conversions to Christianity. Sajan K. George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) told AsiaNews that he was simply celebrating Sunday services at his Church Gnanodaya ("Dawn of Knowledge) in the Umachagi village, Mundgod Taluk.

For five years the pastor has devoted himself to the small community of about 25 faithful, especially tribals.

Sajan explians that "the Sunday service began as usual at 10. Around 11 am, while the faithful prayed, five activists of the Bajrang Dal [Hindu extremist group] stormed the church and started arguing with the minister. Then they insulted him, beat him, and stripped him of his clothes, they took the Bibles from the faithful. The physical and verbal aggression continued for about 30 minutes, then the extremists telephoned the police station in Yellapur, about 3 km away”.

"A police inspector of Yellapur arrived in a jeep and took the pastor, with 7 women and 2 young children, to the police station. The extremists followed threatening them in front of the police station, who watched in silence. "

The GCIC intervened and the police have released the women and children, at 18.30, without charge. Instead, the pastor was brought before the judge and charged under Section 295 of the Penal Code, which provides for forced conversions. He has been brought to the Sirsi prison in Uttar Kananda.

Sajan adds there were "at least 47 documented anti-Christian incidents” in Karnataka in 2010". “I am referring only to cases where Christians have been arrested. But there are countless attacks on Christians, in which pastors are periodically slapped, beaten, insulted, or services disrupted and the faithful threatened, or Bibles and other Christian texts burned or torn, or stones thrown at Christian buildings, which should be considered a disgrace for a secular and democratic country. "

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