11/07/2014, 00.00
INDIA
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Madhya Pradesh: Hindu radicals beat eight Christians, have them arrested

by Nirmala Carvalho
Bajrang Dal activists take advantage of the state's anti-conversion law to attack a small Pentecostal community. For the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "it is essential that Hindu and Christian leaders engage in an active dialogue and genuine collaboration."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Hindu radicals from the Bajrang Dal attacked eight Pentecostals from the village of Kotla, in Madhya Pradesh. During the attack, the victims were stripped naked, punched, whipped with belts and then arrested.

On Tuesday, Rev Rana met with seven members of his congregation to prepare a prayer service. When local Bajrang Dal activists learnt about the meeting, they stormed it and beat up the all the participants. Afterwards, police came to the scene of the attack and arrested the Pentecostals.

Adopted in 1968, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act "is a tool to harass and intimidate the vulnerable Christian minority," said Sajan George. "Hindu radicals use it to make false accusations of forced conversions".

In August 2013, the Madhya Pradesh government amended the law, making it even tougher, by requiring priests to provide local authorities with all the details concerning would-be converts at least 30 days before the ceremony. Failure to respect the law's provisions is punished by heavy fines.

"It is essential that Christian and Hindu leaders engage in an active dialogue and genuine cooperation, to clear the clouds of suspicion and fear that agitate Madhya Pradesh and create instead a climate of mutual tolerance," added the GCIC president.

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