07/08/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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More anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka

by Nirmala Carvalho
A Pentecostal preacher is accused of forced conversions. In Belgaum district, BJP officials attack a religious school for girls, threatening to destroy it because it turned down the application of two Hindu girls.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Anti-Christian attacks continue in Karnataka. In Bangalore, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) denounced the attack on Wednesday against Rev Bhaskar John Poojappa, a Pentecostal minister from the Holy Mountain of God, by some 20 Hindutva activists.

“Fundamentalists dragged the pastor to the police station in Rajan Kunte, inventing stories about forced conversions,” said GCIC President Sajan K George. Following an intervention by the GCIC, the clergyman was released on bail.

On Monday, some 50 Hindus stormed the St Joseph's Convent School for Girls in Belgaum district. During their attack, they insulted teachers and management, and threatened to destroy the school. For Mgr Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, the act was “odious” and deserved condemnation.

Despite heavy pressures, the school had refused the application of two girls, daughters of friends of an important local leader with the ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This sparked a violent reaction among local Hindu radicals.

The BJP leader, Basangouda Sidramani, came with an escort of 50 people, forced his way into the school where he began insulting nuns and teachers. During the incident, he threatened to destroy the entire facility if the girls were not admitted.

The attackers fled when police arrived after some parents and the school principal, Sister Thankam, called them.

There are more than 20,000 Catholics educational facilities in India, some 60 per cent in rural areas. About 6 million students attend their courses, but only 23 per cent is Catholic. The others come from all religious or caste backgrounds.

Female students represent 55 per cent of the overall student body in a country where girls are often denied even a primary education.

“People must know that the majority of the population has been the main beneficiary of ours educational facilities,” said Mgr Moras, a former archbishop of Belgaum and current president of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops Conference (KRCBC)

“The situation is serious for two reasons. First, the attack was aimed at a school that never discriminated on the base of caste or creed. Second, the attackers went after nuns, women and girls, who were certainly weaker than them,” the prelate lamented.
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