Karnataka: Two new attacks against Pentecostal ministers for forced conversions

» 09/17/2011 12:30

by Nirmala Carvalho
The incidents occurred in the districts of Belgaum and Hassan. Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): “Not sporadic cases, but proof of the anti-Christian climate in Karnataka”. In September 2008 The Hindu Nationalist attacks on State churches.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) – “The Constitution guarantees us religious freedom, and yet the state of Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh has the dubious distinction of witnessing an attack against Christians for the practice of faith. It is the duty of the government to safeguard the constitutional rights of all citizens, including minorities.” So Sajan K. George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), denounces two different incidents against Pentecostal pastors of Karnataka, which occurred yesterday, three years after a series of attacks on churches in Karnataka by Hindu extremists.

In the Hassam district, about 20 activists of Sangh Parivar (a Hindu nationalist movement) surrounded the house where pastor Daniel Raghu was leading a prayer service and accused him of practicing forced conversions. The activists then called the police station of Sakleshpur, which questioned and then arrested the pastor under section 153 A of the Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, birth, residence, language).

The same day, in the Belgaum district, approximately 40 extremists of the Sangh Parivar interrupted a Pentecostal baptism and insulted the pastor, Santhosh Naganoor, accusing him of practicing forced conversions.

Such incidents “are not sporadic cases”, laments Sajan K. George, “but it is proof of the anti-Christian climate of Karnataka”. However, the most serious problem “is that these Hindu nationalist groups are emboldened by the Somashekar Commission”, explains the President of the GCIC, “which gave a clean chit to BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, an ultra-nationalist Hindu party) and Sangh Parivar.”

Published last February, the Commission’s report cleared Somashekar Bajrang Dal (Sangh Parivar’s militant youth wing) and its leader Mahendra Kumar of any responsibility in the attacks on the churches of Karnataka, in 2008. From September to October of that year, Hindu nationalists perpetrated continuous and systematic attacks against churches and Christian places of worship. Among the hardest-hit districts, Bangalore, Mangalore, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kolar.