09/11/2013, 00.00
INDIA

Rising anti-Christian violence in Karnataka

by Nirmala Carvalho
Over the past three months, Hindu extremist groups have carried out at least 15 attacks against the state's Protestant communities. According to Christian leader Sajan George, this is part of an "ominous plan by ultra-nationalist forces to discredit the Congress-led Karnataka administration" and win back power.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Security has become an issue in Karnataka. In the past three months, ultra-nationalist Hindu groups have carried at least 15 attacks against Christian communities. This comes on top of threats, insults and those incidents that have gone unreported to the authorities.

The latest incident occurred on Sunday, marking a "worrisome" upward trend, said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Speaking to AsiaNews, he said, "These militants seem to flout the rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution."

On Sunday, 25 Hindu militants from the Rashtriya Savayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) and the Bajrang Dal disrupted a prayer service at the Living Hope Church, an independent Pentecostal community in Yelahanka New Town (north of Bangalore). After they stormed the venue shouting "no prayer and no church", they prevented Church members from continuing their meeting.

Rev William John went to the local police station and filed a complaint against the attackers. Police inspector Ashok Kumar, who took the pastor's statement, promised to provide the Christian leader and his community with the necessary protection.

However, a week earlier, the same Pentecostal Church suffered a similar attack. On 1 September, the same militants interrupted another prayer meeting. They accused the clergyman and the members present of carrying out forced conversions from Hinduism to Christianity and then beat them.

"These attacks," Sajan George noted, "seem to be part of ominous plan by Hindu ultra-nationalist forces to discredit the Congress-led Karnataka administration ahead of parliamentary elections in 2014."

After nine years in power, the Hindu ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) year lost in the state elections in May to the secularist Congress, the largest party in the country.

Since its defeat, the BJP has continued to fuel tensions and support attacks against minorities in the state.

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