06/22/2012, 00.00
INDIA

New attacks against Pentecostal Christians in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka

Nirmala Carvalho
The incidents are driven by ultra-nationalist Hindus (Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP). In both cases, the police arrested the Christians. Sajan George, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Disturbing pattern, made of social pressures and violence."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The anti-Christian attacks that are occurring in states led by Hindu nationalists are "shameful" and show "a disturbing pattern: violence and appalling social pressures, to limit religious freedom." This is the opinion of Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after two further incidents occurred yesterday against Christian communities in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Both countries are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ultra-nationalist party that supports the radical movements of the Sangh Parivar, who are responsible for frequent anti-Christian violence.

Yesterday morning in the village of Pati, about 150km from the city of Indore (Bhalwani district, Madhya Pradesh), the police arrested the minister Arjun along with one of the faithful of his church, named Rakesh, without any reason. The two were conducting a prayer meeting, along with 75 other Christians. However, in the afternoon, the agents released the men without formulating any charge.

A similar episode occurred in Keshavapura (Karnataka): on the complaint of activists of the Sangh Parivar, the police arrested the Pentecostal pastor Manjunath and the Evangelists Stella and Bhavani. The three were distributing leaflets about Christianity at the bus station in Hubli, when members of the ultra-nationalist Hindu group approached them, insulted them using very foul language and snatched the leaflets from them. Then, the activists led them to the nearby police station, where they remain in custody. The Rev. Manjunath has guided the Indian Church of Christ (ICC) for seven years, and his community is composed of 25 worshipers.

Madhya Pradesh is one of six Indian states which have an anti-conversion law. Karnataka has none, but for some time has been attempting to pass one. "The Christian community", Sajan George emphasized, "is even more vulnerable where there are such laws. The ultra-nationalist Hindu groups enjoy the protection of the authorities, and this encourages them to violate every aspect of the life of a Christian, even the most intimate and private. But the Constitution of India requires governments to protect the free exercise of all religions, including minorities. And this also applies to the states led by the BJP."

 

 

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