Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A group of radical Hindu has assaulted a community of Pentecostal Christians in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) with sticks and clubs. They were "guilty" of singing Christmas carols in the streets of the city's tribal Singareny Colony. The incident reportedly took place on 13 December and was confirmed by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) speaking to AsiaNews. Not even women and children were spared. The most seriously injured was the Rev. Bhim Nayak, pastor of the Banjara Baptist Church, who lost consciousness in the attack and is still recovering in a city hospital.
"Rev. Nayak - Sajan George, President of the GCIC told AsiaNews - was accompanied by about 15 faithful. Together they were visiting the Christian families of the Singareny Colony and singing Christmas carols. At one point, about 30 people surrounded their vehicle and accused them of practicing forced conversions, they smashed the windows of the vehicle, dragged them out and beat them. "
The situation in the area had been tense for some time. "The day before - the Christian leader said - a group of nationalist right-wing activists interrupted a Pentecostal conference in Ratlam, and brought representatives of the local administration and police to the venue after accusing the organizers of converting tribal people, offering them money and other 'temptations'. "
However, the local Police Chief Superintendent, P.S. Ranawat, confirmed the innocence of the Christians: "We found no evidence of alleged conversions, forced or otherwise". He said "the officers had spoken to a few tribals, but none confirmed the allegation."
"In secular India - Sajan George said - the Christian community is a tiny minority. If these allegations were true, how come the Government Census shows a decline in the Christian population? Religious Freedom is our Constitutional Guarantee and an Human Right."