10/30/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Protestant leader warns lives of Christians in Karnataka at risk

by Nirmala Carvalho
Three new incidents provoked by ultra-nationalist Hindu community against Pentecostals. In two cases, the victims were admitted to hospital for wounds. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Shameful incidents, but should spur Christians to renew their faith in Christ."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The life of Christians in Karnataka is at risk", says Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), commenting to AsiaNews on three new episodes provoked by ultra-nationalist Hindus in the Indian State. Two attacks took place in the district of Hassan, five days later, the third in the district of Davanagere. Although this case is different, they have in common the victims - all from the Pentecostal community - and the inefficiency of the police. In two incidents, the violence of the radicals was such as to compel the some Christians to go to hospital, because of the severity of their injuries.

The latest attack occurred on October 27 in the district of Davanagere. After a three-day spiritual program, about 200 radical Hindu from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) broke into Divine Healing Medicine Church. According to Hindu activists, the Christians were disturbing the public peace and practicing forced conversions. Meanwhile, six police officers (on the recommendation of the RSS) arrived and questioned Rev. Rajashekhar and the faithful. Disregarding the security forces, the Hindu radicals began to attack the Christians with sticks and stones, injuring 15 people. Five of them - including two women - were admitted to Chigateri Goverment Hospital. This Pentecostal church was founded in 1997 and has about 1000 members. During the pogroms of 2008, it was the victim of attacks by ultranationalist Hindu.

A day earlier, in the district of Hassan, five faithful of Calvary Prarthana Mandira of Javagal were beaten and injured by a group of Hindu fundamentalists. The attackers accused the small community - of Christrisians - of violating the traditions of the village where all the inhabitants are Hindu and pay tribute to the temple. Faced with the refusal of Christians to convert to Hinduism, they turned to violence. The victims - Venkatesh, Girish, Annaiah, Somu and Kanakamma - were admitted to accident and emergency at Chikmagalur Government Hospital. In the same district, on 21 October in Kushalnagar two Hindu radicals raided the Indian Pentecostal Church of Rev. Abraham Koshy, accusing him of practicing forced conversions and beating him. Before leaving, the men threatened to return with other people, if failed to stop prayer services. When they left Rev. Abraham went to the local police to file a complaint. The Deputy Commissioner assured him protection.

According to the president of the GCIC, these incidents are "a disgrace" for the secular credentials of India. "The state - he said - is failing in its responsibility to protect the Christian minority, and it is embarrassing that this growing intolerance takes place with the tacit approval of the authorities. Whereever the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP, ultra-nationalist Hindu party, ed] governs the Christians are second-class citizens. " However, he adds, "what happens to us Christians must call us to renew and give new life to our faith, as Benedict XVI encourages us to do for this Year of Faith".

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