06/07/2011, 00.00
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Karnataka: police arrest Pentecostal pastor on false charges

by Nirmala Carvalho
The incident happened in Bangalore on June 5. Hindu radicals campaign against the law intended by the government to curb sectarian violence. The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians: "We are treated like second class citizens."

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Sjan K George strongly condemns the attempts by the radical Hindu Bajrang Dal movement to block the path of a bill to prevent interreligious violence. The national coordinator of the Bajrang Dal Subhash Chouan, called the law "draconian" and announced that his organization will launch a national campaign to prevent the law being approved by Parliament. Chouan said that the law is imposed from abroad, particularly from the United States. "This law was approved by the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi in command of a foreign power, no doubt. It seems to be part of an international conspiracy targeting Hindu society its organizations and its leaders"said Chouan.

The leader of the Bajrang claims the law interferes in the workings of state government and moreover attacks the federal nature of national politics. "If the employee of a particular organization is accused of interreligious violence, the head of the organization will be held accountable. This law will punish the leaders, even though they are not to blame. " He added that thanks to this law the central government will punish the state Prime Ministers for errors committed by their subordinates.

The president of the GCIC, Sajan K George told AsiaNews: "Right-wing Hindutva elements continue with impunity and immunity doing whatever they want to the minorities in several parts of the country.  On June 5th Karnataka police stormed a Pentecostal house church  Sunday worship, following false complaints of “forced” conversion against the Pastor Manjunath Venketappa Naik in Doddama Layout area of Bangalore.  For nearly four hours the police detained not only the pastor, but also his wife, three minor children and six other Believers as well, only through GCIC advocacy were they released without being charged"

Sajan K George said he was surprised at the criticism from the Bajrang Dal to a report by the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom. "The Report details the constant and consistent attacks on the Christians in Orissa and Karnataka since 2007; and also since the past several years the attacks on the Muslims and other minorities in Gujarat and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and the need to ensure justice for the victims.    The Report also focuses on the anti-conversion laws in five states of India.  These laws apart from being draconian are clearly violations of one’s freedom of religion and expression.  Minorities hardly enjoy the same status as the majority community, unfortunately we are treated so often as second class citizens. "


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