02/13/2013, 00.00
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More anti-Christian violence threatens Lent celebrations

by Nirmala Carvalho
Three incidents take place in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh in three successive days. Police complicity and the indifference of political authorities favour anti-Christian attacks by Hindu fundamentalists.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In some areas of India, Christians are living in terror because of the lack of political will to stop anti-Christian violence and the complicity of police with criminals, this according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who spoke to AsiaNews about the latest anti-Christian attacks last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The worst attack occurred on Friday in Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh). At least 100 members from Hindu nationalist groups Bajrang Dal, Rashtritya Sawayamsevak Sangh (Rss) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) stormed a church where a Pentecostal community, the  Indian Christian Mission (ICM), was holding a three-day prayer meeting (7-9 February).

Attackers beat up worshippers using iron rods, accusing them of forced conversions. More than 30 people ended up in hospital with major injuries. After treatment, the Christians were asked to leave by hospital staff who feared a possible attack by Hindu fundamentalists.

Those who were not injured filed a complaint with police, but the latter rejected their request and instead filed a counterclaim against the Church and its members.

On Saturday, a group of Hindu extremists led by the village chief in Nagpur (Jhabua District, Madhya Pradesh) attacked two Pentecostal clergymen during a prayer service.

The victims, Revs Jorder and Ilam, were taken to the Emergency Ward of the nearest hospital. In their case too, police refused to accept a complaint against the attackers, claiming that the church where the service was held was not registered as a place of worship.

The last attack took place on Sunday in Adilabad District (Andhra Pradesh) when members of the Hindu Vahini, a local Hindu nationalist organisation, filed a complaint against a Christian, Anand Rao, for forced conversions. The latter had come to deliver a lecture on the Bible.

Without checking on the veracity of the charges, police registered a complaint against the Christian man and took him into custody. He was released on bail the next day.

"With the start of Lent, Christians will meet on frequent occasions to pray and celebrate Mass, both in public and in private. For this reason, they should be protected," GCIC president Sajan George said.

However, this kind of attack "shows that not only religious freedom and tolerance but also the rule of law are in danger," he added.

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