11/10/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka: Hindu infiltrate Christians to accuse them of forced conversions

by Nirmala Carvalho
The phenomenon reported by ex-parliamentary deputy HT Sangliana. It is a ploy to create a "psychosis" among Christians and "poison" public opinion. More than 70 allegations of forced conversions that have never been proved. The Global Council of Indian Christians denounces discrimination in the allocation of aid to flood victims.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) - Hindu fundamentalists are infiltrating the Christian community and then making false accusations of forced conversions. This is the assertion HT Sangliana, former Member of the Lok Sabha and patron of Karnataka Missions Network.

The Christian politician, elected in 2004 among the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party and now member of the Indian National Congress, says that this device is now widespread and is used by radical Hindu fringe groups to create "hysteria" among Christians and "poison "public opinion.  

The allegations of forced conversions are becoming more frequent in Karnataka. The latest, by two student guests of Bethel Boarding Hostel Udyavara, was resolved in early November by coming to nothing. The girls claimed they were forced to read the Bible by the rector of the hostel and had seen the directors regularly take a group of thirty children to the church of Ajjarkad with the intent of converting them. The police found no evidence and 63 defendants in the matter were cleared of the accusations.

Sangliana, who incidentally is a former officer of the Indian Police Service, said that 74 complaints of conversion have been filed for which police have found no proof.

The phenomenon of false allegations of conversion are added to the violence and discrimination against Christians in the Karanataka, which with 53 cases recorded in 2008 is second only to Orissa as the present Indian state most marked by instances of Hindu extremism.  

November 9 saw yet another act of vandalism against the church of Saint Anthony in Kavalbyrasandra, the second in a month. Unidentified persons broke into the place of worship desecrated the tabernacle and stole collection money and liturgical objects in the sacristy (see photo).

Last month, unknown assailants vandalized the church of Hebbagodi in the suburbs of Bangalore, damaging the statues of Jesus and Mary. But the violence is not confined to places of worship and it also affects individuals. The most recent reported by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), concerns a young handicapped Christian attacked on 6 November in the district of Shimoga.  

The GCIC reports discrimination against Christians in the allocation of aid to victims of floods in Karnataka. Sajan K George, president of the GCIC, said that in the districts of Raichur, Bellary, Bijapur and Gulbarga Christians and Dalits were not even allowed the distribution of food "necessary for their survival." He adds: "This shows a complete deficiency of good governance in the State of Karnataka."

 

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