03/16/2012, 00.00
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Hindu nationalists attack three Christian communities

by Nirmala Carvalho
All the incidents took place in West Bengal, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in the last week. In all cases, police arrested the victims, not the attackers. For the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) president, Lent, Advent and Christmas are when minority Christians suffer the most.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Three anti-Christian attacks were recorded in West Bengal, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh just in the past week, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported. Like Advent and Christmas, Lent is a time when Hindu ultranationalists tend to intensify their harassment and terrorising of minority Christians. For GCIC president Sajan George, the situation shows the "total lack of justice towards Christians who are increasingly vulnerable."

On Wednesday, police in Burnpur (West Bengal) arrested five members of the Brethren Gospel Pentecostal Church after some residents of the village complained about their prayers.

Although police released them, they were forced to re-arrest them when Hindu ultranationalists complained. This time the five Christians were charged with violating various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those against "causing communal disharmony" and "unlawful assembly".

On Monday, some 30 activists from the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist group, broke into a private home in a slum in Govindpuri (South Delhi). After dragging out Rev Jagdish, a Pentecostal clergyman, they called police and had him arrested. He was released, but only after he signed a pledge not to visit that home again or conduct prayer meetings.

On Sunday, other Bajrang Dal activists stormed a house church in Multai, Betul District (Madhya Pradesh), accusing Rev Motilal Gujare of engaging in forced conversions.

When the local police arrived, they arrested the clergyman and a member of his congregation, Prakash Masih, citing Section 298 of the Penal Code, which bans "Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent" [. . .] of wounding the religious feelings of any person".

"Hindu radicals enjoy political protection," Dajan George said. "They feel so strong that they fabricate charges to harass the Christian community. In order to satisfy nationalist feelings, police arrest innocent Christians without a fair trial."

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