02/15/2005, 00.00
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Hindu fundamentalists beat up six Christian theology students in Kerala

by Nirmala Carvalho
RSS activists are behind the attack. An evangelical pastor is killed in Karnataka.

Thiruvalla (AsiaNews) – Hindu fundamentalists again attacked Christians in Kerala (southern India). Last Sunday, February 13, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists beat up six Christian theology students from the Asian Biblical Seminary which is attached to the Thiruvalla-based Believers Church, near Mannar, Alappuzha district.

According to the Alappuzha district superintendent of police Mahipal Yadav, the culprits have been identified as members of the RSS and would soon be arrested.

The RSS is the armed branch of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party that is hostile to religious minorities.

The theology students had come to Mannar from Thiruvalla for Sunday to preach the gospel.

Witnesses said that the activists forced them to board an auto-rickshaw. They were then taken out of town and beaten. They are currently hospitalised in a private clinic in Thiruvalla.

Mgr Isaac Mar Cleemis Thottunkal, Catholic Bishop of Thiruvalla, told AsiaNews that he was going to "inquire into the attacks on the six students".

"The interaction between the Church and the Believers is cordial," Bishop Thottunkal added, but "we meet only for social engagements".

Bishop Thottunkal said that although "[w]e have a Christian Chief Minister in Kerala, but sadly these attacks do take place".

The Believers' Church recently ordained its first bishop, K.P. Yohananan. It runs several educational institutions and owns huge properties in an around Thiruvalla.

Southern India recently saw another episode of anti-Christian violence. On February 11, a 25-year-old evangelical pastor, Narayan, was killed in Hunsur, near Mysore, in the state of Karnataka.

Investigators said this was "a cold-blooded murder" but have not yet been able to find the culprit.

Karnataka and Kerala are states where a violent anti-Christian propaganda campaign is underway.

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