12/28/2012, 00.00
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Karnataka: anti-Christian attacks even on Christmas

Hindu nationalists from the Bajrang Dal get banner dedicated to the 25 years of Our Lady of Velankanni removed. Christian leader tells AsiaNews that police "are silent spectators when it comes to violence against Christians." The latest is the 40th attack against Christians this year.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Police are "quick to respond to the demands of Hindu nationalists," but are "silent spectators when it comes to violence against Christians," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) as he spoke about the 40th anti-Christian attack in Karnataka this year.

On Wednesday, activists from the Bajrang Dal forced the parish priest of the Stella Maris Church in Kalmady (Udupi District) to remove a banner dedicated to Our Lady of Velankanni, whose silver jubilee it is this year. The banner showed an image of Our Lady and a Brahmin with a vase in his hands.

According to tradition, various Marian appearances have been recorded in the area since the 16th century. In the first case, the Virgin, her son in her arms, asked a Hindu boy for some of the milk he was carrying.

Fr Alban D'Souza raised the banner on 8 December, to mark the 25th anniversary of the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Velankanni. However, for Anil Bangera, a local Bajrang Dal leader, the banner "hurt the religious feelings of the Hindu community of Kalmady."

After informing the police, Hindu nationalists told the parish priest to remove the banner and apologise for the insult. To avoid violent reactions during Christmas celebrations, Fr D'Souza removed the banner saying that "the Church had no intention of hurting anyone's belief."

For Sajan George, the incident "is an act of intolerance that deserves to be strongly condemned because it sows the seeds of mistrust and suspicion within the community; the more some since the apparition of Our Lady of Velankanni is part of the history and culture of this area, and the chapel is visited by believers of every religion." (NC)

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