Hindu radicals threaten more anti-Christian pogroms in Karnataka

» 08/25/2011 13:04
INDIA

According to the Prashanti Human Rights Centre, Christians in this state fear a repeat of the 2008 violence. Police engages in ambiguous behaviour as it keeps files on Protestant clergyman.

Mangalore (AsiaNews) – The Prashanti Human Rights Centre warns that three years after the bloody pogroms in Orissa, another Indian state could see more of the same, especially since Hindu radicals were responsible for local attacks and violence in September 2008. In fact, panic is now spreading among Karnataka Christians because of rumours that Hindu fundamentalists are planning a new wave of violence (see Nirmala Carvalho, “Karnataka, Hindu protesters incite the massacre of Christians, in AsiaNews, 21 August 2007).

Rumours began circulating earlier this week after police started calling local clergymen on 18 August asking them to register their prayer houses at the nearest police station, this according to Fr Ronnie Prabhu, SJ, general secretary of the Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights.

Police, he said, wanted the clergymen to get permission from the district commissioner before holding gatherings and to tell them how many people regularly attended their services.

Most of the clergymen belong to the Karnataka Mission Network, an association of 27 Pentecostal churches in the state. Its president, Rev Walter Maben, said 70 pastors were contacted this way and were told that without registration, police would not be able to protect their prayer houses and that any gathering would be deemed illegal.

“The pastors were told to follow the instructions to the letter or they would be in danger,” Fr Prabhu said. However, when a pastor of an unaffiliated church went to the commissioner’s office, he was told that no orders requiring registration were ever issued.

Citing police sources, Fr Prabhu said that some Hindu groups plan to mark the anniversary of the 2008 attacks with a repeat performance.

The police apparently are showing concern, he explained, but also appear to be “laying down impossible conditions so that they can’t be held responsible” if any attacks occur.

The violence that broke out in September 2008 in Karnataka saw a series of attacks on Christians and 24 Church buildings. Hindu extremists had accused Christians of performing conversions in the state.

In April of this year, Hindu hardliners attacked three Christian homes for children. Last week, a group of 20 extremists attacked a Pentecostal clergyman, Rev Sangappa Hosamani Shadrak, for conducting prayer services in his house (see Nirmala Carvalho, “Hindu radicals ransack churches, beat up clergyman in Karnataka,” in AsiaNews, 22 August 2011).

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