02/21/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Madhya Pradesh: Hindu fundamentalists attack Christians even in the privacy of their homes

by Nirmala Carvalho
In two separate incidents, Pentecostal clergymen are accused of forced conversions. For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), India's constitution guarantees freedom of worship and praying at home does not violate the penal code.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Two more anti-Christian incidents in Madhya Pradesh illustrate the latest trend among Hindu fundamentalists. In addition to filing false charges over forced conversions, they are now attacking Christians in the privacy of their homes even though "praying in one's home is not a crime," Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) Sajan George said.

Pentecostal Christians were attacked in two separate incidents on 16 and 18 February. Last Monday, members of the Hindu ultranationalist Bajrang Dal stormed the home of a man, Hiralal, in the village of Roshni, where they beat up Rev Iliyas Buck who was leading Bible studies. After the attackers called police, the clergyman was taken into custody and charges of forced conversion were laid against him. He was eventually released a few hours later.

Last Saturday, Hindu nationalist from the Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) broke up a prayer meeting in the village of Gulai. After beating up the clergyman conducting the service, Rev Isaac, they took him away later in the evening to Khalwa where they resumed their beating. Later, they handed him over to police who kept him in jail overnight.

Although the Indian constitution recognises freedom of worship, incidents of this kind have become more frequent across the country.

What happened in Madhya Pradesh "reflects a lack of political will to stop the perpetrators of the attacks," said Sajan George.

"We should investigate the activities of armed militant groups like the Bajrang Dal, the RSS and the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) under the 1967 Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act," a law that is aimed at suppressing groups involved in illegal activities that threaten India's integrity and sovereignty.

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