Andhra Pradesh, eight Pentecostal Christians arrested for praying in the street

» 09/29/2011 14:30
INDIA

by Nirmala Carvalho
One hundred activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a Hindu ultra-nationalist group) accused them of forced conversions, then led the police to arrest them. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): “No let up for Christians, the system is corrupt.” Today in Orissa a march to commemorate the anti-Christian violence of 2008.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “There seems to be no respite to the anti Christian wave, these eight Christians were neither doing anything unconstitutional nor were there creating a law and order situation”, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians(GCIC), he rails against yet another case of harassment against Christians. On 23 September, in Andhra Pradesh, police arrested eight Pentecostal Christians, accused by a group of Hindu activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a Hindu ultra-nationalist group) of forced conversions.

The eight Pentecostals of the Brethen Assemblies Church were praying in the street. About one hundred RSS Hindu extremists surrounded them, accusing them of wanting to practice conversions. To prevent a lynching, the police tried to disperse the crowd, bringing the Christians to the police station. But the activists surrounded the police station and forced agents to arrest the group of Christians in accordance with Art. 153 / A of the Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language or birth).

“The Christians – explains Sajan George told AsiaNews – have not violated any law and were arrested. Instead, the Hindu group who caused unrest, disturbing public order, and stirred up the feeling of suspicion against Christians, remain unpunished. ”

The president of the GCIC then notes the Report on International Religious Freedom published by the U.S. State Department on 13 September. The document – updated to December 2010 – underlines the schizophrenic situation: on the one hand, India’s central government recognizes and guarantees freedom of religion, under the Constitution, on the another, some states limit the nationa right – and foment anti-Christian persecution by Hindu extremists – by applying anti-conversion laws. “The U.S. Department Report – said Sajan George – explains the continuation of anti-Christian violence with the lack of trained police and overloaded judicial system. But in reality it is the entire system that is corrupt”. Especially if “even states without an anti-conversion law – he concludes – can manipulate the Penal Code.”

Meanwhile today, the Global Council of Indian Christians held a rally in Nandagiri (Orissa), to remember the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in 2008. Nandagiri is a colony where 54 Catholic and 17 Pentecostals families who fled from their villages during the pogroms were resettled.

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