07/02/2016, 16.16
INDIA
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Protestant churches and believers attacked, one church under reconstruction

by Nirmala Carvalho

Telangana, Karnataka and Haryana are the scene of violent incidents. In Hyderabad, the authorities tore down a church, but later allow it to be rebuilt. In Haveri, a congregation lost its place of worship. In Panchkula, 100 Hindu radicals harass worshippers.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Three Christian places of worship have been the object of attacks recently in India.

In Hyderabad (Telangana), municipal authorities ordered the demolition of the Heason Church in Malakpet, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

Responding to the action, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) held a protest in front of the administration building.

On 16 June, the Protestant church, led by Pastor Jaipal, was torn down. The congregation gathered to protest against the desecration of their place of prayer. However, the Protestant church is currently undergoing reconstruction.

GCIC president Sajan K George, president of the GCIC, is happy about the turn of events, but he told AsiaNews that poverty and insecurity prevail among local Christians. In fact, in Malakpet, local Christians tend to be at the bottom of the socio-economic scale, and “the church brought them, solace, tranquillity and hope.”

Unlike Hyderabad, no happy ending for the El Shaddai Assembly of God Church in Haveri, Karnataka.

The church had just been dedicated on 12 May by Rev Basavaraj Marudi, but on 19 June a mob of right-wing Hindu extremists stormed the structure and interrupted the Sunday mass.

Unprovoked, Hindus accused the clergyman of forced conversion, chased out the faithful, and told the pastor to stop ministering in the area.

The same evening, the GCIC president, "the mob went back to church, broke through the front door and placed a statue of a Hindu deity and hoisted a flag." The following Sunday, prayers were held, but no Mass.

The third violent anti-Christian incident was reported in the city of Panchkula, Haryana.

Independent pastor Vicky was scheduled to hold a conference, but at the last moment the local administration denied permission.

The next day, as the clergyman and his fellow Christians were about to hold an evening prayer service, about 100 Hindu radicals wielding sticks attacked them. The wounded required medical treatment, including women and children.

"All this is unacceptable,” said Sajan K George. “Christians are a tiny minority. We're not doing anything unconstitutional or criminal.”

“Attacks in various states by criminals who remain unpunished because of a saffronised mind-set are a blight on secular India,” he added. “Since they are affiliated with the government, they feel free to terrorise and harass Christians.”

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