» 01/04/2016, 00.00
"Second Class Citizens": 15 Christians arrested for alleged forced conversions
Police in Puttur in Karnataka stop celebrations to "protect" the Church, surrounded by Hindu radicals. The religious authorities called to testify and handed rules for future prayer services. These included the obligation to notify the police. Catholic leader: "In secular India, Christians are persecuted and vulnerable."
Bangalore (AsiaNews) - The Christian minority "is vulnerable and subjected to harassment and persecution by both extremist as well as authorities, who are responsible for protecting citizens. Clearly, Christians are considered second-class citizens in secular India”, says Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
George was commenting to AsiaNews on the umpteenth arrest of 15 Christians for alleged forced conversions in the Indian state of Karnataka. The incident happened on the eve of the new year in the parish of bannur Jodukatte Puttur, in the southern district of Kannada. The police interrupted the religious function of the Believers Church [a congregation of evangelical Protestants - ed] justifying the action as "protection" from the dozens of Hindu radicals who had surrounded the Church.
On the evening of 31 December 2015, the Protestant Church of bannur Jodukatte organized a prayer to usher in the new year. More than 15 people attended the celebration, mostly migrant workers from Perne, Salmara, bannur and Badagannur [various locations of Karnataka - ed].
The function attracted the attention of members of two Hindu extremist ultranationalist groups, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The radicals tried to stop the ceremony by raiding the church, but were blocked by locked doors. Police intervened to "calm tempers" and took faithful from within the church to the nearest police station, they were released after a few hours.
The next day the religious leaders were called to testify and ensure that there has been no attempt to proselytize. Police handed them rules to be observed in the future, including the obligation to alert the authorities ahead of all prayer services and celebrations.
The president of the GCIC reports that no action has been taken "against those who disturb social peace". "The GCIC – he concludes - strongly condemns the police actions, who intervened quickly and acted against people who were praying in a private place. The police should have only dispersed the mob that had gathered outside the church. "
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