Hindu extremists terrorise small Pentecostal community in Uttar Pradesh
Members of the Yuva Shakti Sangathan accuse a Christian clergyman of trying to convert hundreds of Hindus. Rev Santosh Kannaujia denies the allegations. Local Christians gather only to pray. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, Hindu radicals think Indian Christians are second-class citizens.
Varanasi (AsiaNews) – Hindu extremists from the Yuva Shakti Sangathan attacked a small Pentecostal community in Bela, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, terrorising its members last Sunday.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that a dozen of Hindu extremists, associated with Hindutva, a pan-Hindu extremist ideology, went to the home of Santosh Kannaujia, a local Pentecostal clergyman.
The extremists accused him of trying to convert Hindus to Christianity in the nearby village of Cholapur. Santosh was defended by members of his community; the police intervened to stop the row, making arrests on both sides.
According to Praveen Dubey, head of Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Santosh attempted to convert hundreds of people; the pastor denied the allegations saying that local Christians only gather to pray.
The GCIC firmly condemned the action of the radical Hindu group, which caused clashes by disseminating false information.
George slammed extremist groups that operate in the Bela area and harass Pentecostals.
"Conversion,” the GCIC president said, “is not illegal. It is a constitutional right, like praying. Worshipping is not a crime, yet these right-wing groups, on the basis of mere rumour or fake information, bother and terrorise the small Christian community.”
George notes that India is a secular country, and that all its citizens are equal before the law. "However, some people think that Pentecostal Christians do not have the same rights as Hindus, and that people who belong to minorities are second-class citizens.”