08/19/2013, 00.00
INDIA

Rajasthan: Hindu extremists attack Christian family, tell them to convert or be killed

by Nirmala Carvalho
With their faces disguised, four ultra-nationalists attack the mother of a Pentecostal pastor, beating and seriously injuring her. The group was looking for her son and his wife, who were not at home at the time of the incident. For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "The closer we get to the general election, the greater the intolerance of radical Hindus towards Christians."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "If you do not convert to Hinduism we will kill you and cut you in pieces," a group of ultra-nationalist Hindus told an elderly Christian as they attacked her at her son's home in Jaipur (Rajasthan). The men were looking for him, Rev Vishaal Behl, a Pentecostal clergyman, and his wife.

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), expressed "deep sorrow" for the attack against the woman, who was seriously injured to the head and arms.

The beating she received, he said, is symptomatic of "the increasing intolerance and hostility towards Christians, the silence of the authorities and the absence of convictions" for the guilty.

At the time of the attack, on 13 August, the woman was alone in her son's house, which doubles as a prayer room for the Fire of God Ministries, the Pentecostal community he leads.

Early in the afternoon, four men came to the door, faces disguised by helmets. When they found out that the Rev Behl and his wife were not at home, they broke in, and began breaking the furnishings.

They also threatened the elderly woman to get her to tell them where her son and daughter-in-law were. The woman told them she did not know; for that reason, she was beaten. When some neighbours realised what was going on, the Hindu radicals left.

"With an eye to the general election of 2014," the Christian leader said, "Hindutva extremist forces think that fomenting tensions between different communities and inciting society against the Christian minority can help them get votes, even in Rajasthan, a state led by Congress," the country's largest secular party that is in power in the central government.

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