01/17/2018, 19.15
INDIA
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Ranchi: clergyman beaten by Hindu radicals, but most Indians are against violence

Anti-Christian violence is orchestrated by extreme right-wing nationalist groups. “What is under attack is the pluralism of Indian society!”

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – In a village near Ranchi, a group of radical Hindus dragged a Christian clergyman into the street, beat him up and threatened to kill if he did not renege Christ and honour instead the Hindu monkey god.

The victim, Rev Karma Oraon, is a pastor in Harmu, a village in the State Jharkhand. He was attacked on Christmas Eve, but news about the incident was made public only yesterday.

Last month, anti-Christian violence broke out in the country, most notably when some priests and seminarians were arrested for singing Christmas carols in some villages.

When “they were kicking and beating me, I felt that even if I die now, the Lord will make the ministry I leave behind fruitful,” Rev Oraon said.

For Ram Puniyani, president of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, the oppressive climate of anti-Christian violence in India is pervasive, but he also noted that “the majority of Indians are opposed to this, and is very critical of this violence in the name of religion.”

In his view, that attacks are “mainly orchestrated by the BJP and the RSS*.” A “majority of people don't support the actions of Hindutva** groups indulging in anti-Christian violence”, but “Christian minorities do feel intimidated.”

The attackers, about fifteen, interrupted the meditation and shouted "Praise Bajrang Bali", referring to the god Hanuman, one of the most famous Hindu deities who symbolises the spirit of wisdom and looks like a monkey. They then dragged him out, repeatedly beat his chest, insulted him, and tore up his identity card.

Since the clergyman is an ethnic Orao, they told him that he “should follow the Adivasi (indigenous) religion, and not a foreign religion.” Hindu nationalists view Christianity as an imported religion.

"I never had an experience of opposition when I preached Gospel or visited families to pray for the sick. I seek inspiration from my Lord,” Rev Oraon said. “People have crossed every limit to humiliate Him and crucify Him, but He patiently bore their torture for my sake, for my sins," he added.

Although the victims of the attack turned to the police, the latter refused to register the complaint.  “The attitude of police is generally hostile to the Christians and Christian missionaries,” said Puniyani.

According to nationalist propaganda, Christians convert by the use of force, seduction, and money, a view that is widespread among Hindus. “Many priests have been arrested or apprehended on the charges of conversion,” Puniyani noted.

“Violence is generally the after effect of hate, constructed around the propaganda against Christian missionaries. As such, taking the law in their hands has become a norm for Hindutva groups.”

“It is important to note that most of this violence is in the Adivasi areas. While in the cities, many of the Hindutva right-wing followers have been sending their children to Christian mission schools.”

For Puniyani, “What is under attack is the pluralism of Indian society!”

* The BJP or Bharatiya Janata party is a nationalist party that currently runs the government, whilst the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a Hindu paramilitary organisation.

** Hindutva refers to a Hindu-centred ideology that considers Hinduism as a single ethnic, cultural and political whole, and in whose name, acts of violence and discrimination are perpetrated against the country’s ethnic and religious minorities.

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