09/11/2009, 00.00
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Vandals destroy glass windows and statues in a church in Bangalore

by Nirmala Carvalho
The attack takes place one year from the violence in Orissa and Karnataka. Last year there were 112 attacks, this year already 20. The police have orders to shoot on sight.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) - An unidentified group of 15-20 people overturned and broke two statues and destroyed 40 windows of the church of St. Francis de Sales in Hebbagudi, 20 km from the city of Bangalore, the high-tech capital of  India. The city and Karnataka, ruled by Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) has a long history of violence against churches. The police have orders to shoot on sight.

According to preliminary reports, the attack occurred the night between 9 and 10 September, at 2. The extremist group lingered for over an hour to destroy two statues in a group of sculptures commemorating the crucifixion. With sticks and axes they destroyed 40 windows and tried to set fire to a car parked near the parish house. Even the parish house was damaged.

The Global Council of Indian Christians has condemned the violence: "This attack on a church takes place just a year after the attacks on churches in Mangalore, Bangalore and other cities of Karnataka. The violence and intimidation against the Christian minority continues and the perpetrators of crimes are even more arrogant because they are not pursued. The GCIC calls for an investigation into the incident and the protection of places of worship of the Christian community”.

According to the GCIC, Karnataka - which is governed by the Hindu nationalist BJP party - has a lengthy history of attacks against Christian churches and chapels. A year ago, when there was the pogrom against Christians in Orissa, the violence spread even to Karnataka, with 112 cases in 29 districts. This year there have already been 20 new attacks.

The chief minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, has threatened action against the vandals and asked the police to take strong measures. His government, he said, is committed to ensuring harmony among different ethnic and religious communities.

The Chief of Police, Bidar Shankar, said that now the police have orders to shoot on sight against all those who steal from or desecrate churches, mosques and temples.

The church of St. Francis de Sales receives about 3 thousand faithful and celebrates mass in different languages: Kannada, Tamil, Malayam and English. Parish priest Fr. Aronnis, says: "We want the government to ensure security. These negative elements, which destroy the peace and security of Indian citizens should not be free. "


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