The usually peaceful state of Karnataka has seen an alarming rise in the number of attacks on the minority Christian community.
A mob of 200 activists from extremist groups, the Hindu Jagarana Vedike and the Shiva Sainya youth association attacked the house of Pastor Premkumar in Davangere town on 12 August. The police detained eleven people over the incident, including four women.
According to Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a Christian advocacy group based in Bangalore, the attackers have formed smaller groups and travelled to the homes of independent pastors and evangelists all over the region, threatening them to stop holding church services.
The GCIC said that the small Christian community in the area had been terrorised by extremists, and that pastors were fleeing to escape the persecution. According to the group, police officials are advising Christians to leave the area.
Last week, students from a Bible college in Turvekere were attacked by an extremist mob who allegedly injured some of them before taking them to the police, where they were reportedly ill-treated.
Kanakapura taluk in Kodipura village witnessed an attack on a Christian prayer meeting instigated by Hindu radicals, who also shouted anti-Christian slogans.
"A mob of nearly 10-15 extremists barged into the church, abused the pastor and made false accusations of forcible conversions," the GCIC quoted him as saying.
The GCIC said some of the men had been arrested by the police.
On 10 August, members of an 80-strong congregation were left injured when Hindu radicals attacked their church.
The police have agreed to provide security during the church services and have also arrested six people in connection with the attack.
On the same day, two pastors in another village were reportedly stripped and tied to a car for evangelising in the area. Hindu radicals are again believed to be behind the attack.
As attacks on the Christian community continue to escalate in the state, GCIC is appealing to churches and Christians to pray for the victims and for law and order to prevail.
The group has also asked India's president to force state authorities to do more to protect the Christian minority.
Attacks on Christians escalate in India's Karnataka state
Published 19 August 2008 | Rahul Benjamin