08/22/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Hindu radicals ransack churches, beat up clergyman in Karnataka

by Nirmala Carvalho
For two Sundays in a row, Mass service was disrupted. Yesterday, a clergyman was roughed up and arrested on false forced conversion charges. For Global Council of Indian Christians president Sajan K George, “The aggressors walk free. Sixty-four years since independence, religious freedom does not exist in states like Karnataka, Orissa and Gujarat. This is a serious blot on secular India.”
Mudhol (Asia News) – In Karnataka, Rev Sangappa Hosamani Shadrak, 28, a resident of Mudhol, was attacked by 20 radical Hindu activists from the Bajrang Dal. The incident occurred yesterday when the clergyman was celebrating Sunday Mass in the home of a parishioner, Yellappa Hosamani, in the village of Rohi, some 10 kilometres from the clergyman’s own home. In recent years, he had held had regular Sunday service in the village.

When extremists attacked the small Christian community, they desecrated the bread and wine used during the celebration and badly beat up Rev Shadrak, who lost a tooth and was seriously hurt to the face. After the initial attack, he was taken to another village, Latte, where he was tied to a tree. His attackers then left him and called police in Lokapura.

Accompanied by a few agents, Inspector Choudhary freed the clergyman and took him, and some of his parishioners, to a police station. Rev Shadrak was eventually sent to Jamkotai prison for detention on unspecified charges, this despite attempts by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) to have him released.

GCIC president Sajan K George slammed the arrest. “Attacks against Christians continue despite promises made by the new chief minister, Sadananda Gowda, who has always had good and cordial relations with the Christian community. The latter backed him but it continues to be vulnerable and suffer persecution by Hindutva extremists.”

Sajan K George said that for two Sundays in a row, Mass was disrupted. Pentecostal clergymen have been insulted and roughed up. The church has been ransacked and false charges of conversion laid against innocent people.

“The aggressors walk free. Sixty-four years since independence, religious freedom does not exist in states like Karnataka, Orissa and Gujarat. This is a serious blot on secular India.”

The GCIC is also worried about a new campaign launched by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The Hindu extremist Hindu group has come out against a draft law on ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence’.

VHP leader Pravin Togadia said the law would make police “subservient to minority communities”. He accuses the National Advisory Council chaired by Sonia Gandhi of being anti-Hindu.

In reality, the law is designed to give the central government the power to declare a state of “internal disturbance” whenever sectarian violence breaks out.
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