Saturday, June 28, 2008

India: Persecution of Christians

Uttarakhand, June 27 (Compass Direct News) – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on June 22 attacked a Christian prayer meeting, beating participants and the pastor in Krishnagar, Dehra Dun city, reported the daily Tribune. The extremists stormed pastor Jonathan Singh’s Sunday prayer meeting and beat him and other participants. As the women and children in the assembly ran off, the extremists caught hold of Singh, dragged him to his rented home some distance away and ordered the landlord to throw out his belongings. The extremists ordered Singh to leave Dehra Dun, the report stated. A delegation of Christian leaders went to Garhi Cantonment police station, where the officer in-charge declined to register a First Information Report (FIR), instead advising them to contact local BJP legislator Harbans Kapoor, who is also Speaker of the state assembly. Dehra Dun Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Sinha said he would look into the matter.

Andhra Pradesh – In Rangadam Palli, Medak district, Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on June 22 attacked a pastor, his wife and another Christian woman and poured alcohol on them. The All India Christian Council of India (AICC) reported that at about 8 p.m. pastor Kinnere Kanankaiah, his wife and Manne Laxmi were on their way home from a birthday celebration when the drunken extremists began harassing them. They beat the pastor, knocking him to the ground and stomping on him. They hit Laxmi on the head with the edge of a broken bottle and afterwards poured alcohol on all three. Moses Vattipalli of AICC told Compass that the pastor was admitted to a hospital with internal injuries, and the two women also received treatment. The pastor registered a police complaint. At press time, no arrests had been made.

Karnataka – About 100 Hindu extremists belonging to the Bajrang Dal accompanied by police disrupted a pastors seminar and seized their property on June 17 in Varna village, Mysore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the extremists stormed the Well Water Garden Institute’s seminar, where 70 pastors were in training, and accused them of forcible conversions. Some of the pastors went to the district superintendent of police asking for protection. Instead, at about 7 p.m., police led by Circle Inspector Venketa Ramanappa barged into the chapel and threatened the pastors with dire consequences if they continued meeting. Police officers took Bibles, books and vehicles belonging to the pastors. With the intervention of the GCIC, the seized materials were returned to the pastors.

Chhattisgarh – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists belonging to the Bajrang Dal attacked Christians on June 16 in Rewadahi village, Rajnandgaon district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that just before midnight, a mob of around 55 Hindu extremists went to the house of two converts, Karthik Sahu and one identified only as Ramesh. Sahu was scheduled to marry a Christian convert on June 18, and the intolerant Hindus derided him in foul language for marrying by Christian rites in a church and not according to Hindu rites in a temple. The extremists beat and kicked both men for nearly 15 minutes, then went to the neighboring house of Sagni Sahu, where weekly prayer meetings take place, and began berating him and others in coarse language and falsely accusing them of forcibly converting villagers to Christianity. The extremists then left with 30,000 rupees (US$703), which the couple had in their home as they had just sold their rice crop. “The extremists accused the couple of having the money to lure villagers to convert to Christianity,” GCIC regional coordinator Sam Mathew told Compass. “At around 1 a.m. on June 17, the couple went to the Lal Bagh police station to register a complaint, and the police detained the couple till morning and released them at 11 a.m.” Police refused to register a case of robbery against the extremists, he added.

Andhra Pradesh – Unknown assailants set a church building on fire on June 15 in Amberpet, Hyderabad. The church was burned down at about midnight along with five huts in the area. A pulpit, tables, sound system, fans, light and other furniture were reduced to ashes, with damages estimated to be around 50,000 rupees (US$1,171). Pastor Majji Yeshurathnam had established the small prayer chapel used as church building in the slum area nine years ago with permission from local authorities, and the All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that related ministries had led to many positive changes in the community. The pastor has filed a police complaint. At press time, no arrests had been made. An AICC representative told Compass that intolerance of Christians is on the rise in different areas of Andhra Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists belonging to the Bajrang Dal on June 15 beat and filed a false complaint of forcible conversion against a pastor in Chungi Naka, Gurh Tehsil, Rewa district, according to Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). As pastor Rampal Masih of Believers Church was preaching to a congregation of 70 believers at about 11 a.m., nearly 25 intolerant Hindus surrounded the rented church hall shouting Hindu chants. Five of the Hindu extremists entered the church, walked up to the pulpit and dragged Masih outside, punching and kicking him and accusing him of forcible conversions. Sam Mathew, regional coordinator, GCIC told Compass, “The extremists brought along two policemen from the local Gurh police station to the church, after registering a false complaint of conversion against Masih. They continued beating the pastor in front of the police. The police warned the pastor against conducting Christian worship in the village and threatened to arrest him if he did so again.”

Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bharatiya Yuva Jana Morcha (Indian People’s Youth Front ) along with members of an auto union on June 12 attacked a pastor and a non-Christian brake inspector, falsely accusing them of forcible conversions in L.B. Nagar, Hyderabad. Brake inspector Ramesh Babu was known for his strict application of traffic rules, causing many drivers to turn against him, and pastor Peter Mohan had received many threats not to preach Christ in the area; the two men are friends. The All India Christian Council reported that Hindu extremists eager to implicate them in a false case joined forces with the auto union members to concoct the accusations and launch the attack. On June 13 the extremists and the auto union members staged a protest, demanding suspension of the brake inspector and an end to all Christian activities in the area.

Source: Compass Direct News

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