India: Violence against Christians on the rise in Karnataka

Published 05 October 2013  |  

Incidents of violence against Christians in India's Karnataka state have spiked since June, including hospitalisation of a school helper this month after Hindu extremists beat her and marched her through the streets.

According to a story by Morning Star News, Hindu extremists kicked and punched the 50-year-old Christian woman, who goes by the name of Sannamma, after intercepting her in Chamrajnagar District on Sept. 13.

A resident of Kolipalya, Sannamma was in Nirayanpalya village to invite students back to school when a mob of about 40 Hindu nationalists stopped her and demanded she give money for a Hindu festival, a Christian leader said.

"Sannamma agreed to give them the money later, as she did not have any money with her at that time," area pastor Vincent Dass told Morning Star News.

However, the Hindu extremists began beating her, calling her "pagan," and accused her of forceful conversion. As they verbally abused Sannamma, the mob punched, kicked and shoved her around before dragging her to a Hindu temple.

There they tried to forcefully convert her back to Hinduism by pouring water on her as a symbol of religious cleansing from Christianity and applied a red dot on her forehead as a symbol of reconv ersion, Christian leaders said.

The Hindu extremists also forced Sannamma, who belongs to The Glorious Church, to sign a paper stating that she and her husband, Shidda Naik, would not spread word of Christianity. Her husband, however, was not with her at the time of the attack, Christian leaders said.

After that they dragged her out from the temple and marched her around the village again, continuing to slap and push her.

"The attack against her lasted more than six hours, until she was finally rescued by her sister-in- law," Morning Star News reported Pastor Dass said.

She was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for internal injuries and multiple contusions. Sannamma spoke of pain in her throat, inner chest and back, and doctors said she would require bed rest for some time.

"What I am suffering is nothing compared to what my Lord Jesus has suffered," Sannamma, who became a Christian eight years ago, told Morning Star News.

She added, "I will love him forever for giving me a new life."

Police registered a First Information Report against four attackers, attorney Moses Muragavel of the Karnataka Legal Aid Cell said.

Increased Christian Persecution

Christians in Karnataka state have suffered at least 21 attacks from June to mid-September, compared with just four attacks from January to May, said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

"Karnataka Christians are being threatened, attacked and harassed for their faith and practice of charitable works," Morning Star News reported George said. "The Hindu extremists of the Bajrang Dal collude with lower level police and district administration officials to terrorize Christians and their institutions in Karnataka."

Since the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost seats in a state legislative assembly election on May 5, they have been compensating with increased attacks, said Christian Legal Association Senior Advocate S. Nova Bethania in Bangalore.

"The Hindu extremists want to show their existence by attacking the Christians, and sadly the present Congress government is not serious about these attacks launched against the Christians," Bethania told Morning Star News.

In Yelahanka New Town, Bangalore North on Sept. 8, Hindu extremists disrupted the worship meeting of The Living Hope Church, shouting, "No prayer, no church," Christian leaders said. Previously they had attacked on Sept. 1, accusing Pastor William John of forceful conversion and telling him to stop worship services.

"About 15 extremists first came to the meeting to see what was going on, and when more of them started streaming into the hall, I thought I should leave the meeting to avoid further trouble," John told Morning Star News.

The extremists ran after him, tried to pull him from his car and accused him of forceful conversion, he said. Holding him by his shirt, they beat him as well as a church member who came to help him.

"It was only by the grace of God tha t I managed to close the car door and speed off," John said.

The next Sunday, the Hindu mob gathered at the church premises shouting the same anti-Christian slogans, and no church meeting took place in the rented hall.

"The extremists threatened to tear me apart and kill me if I ever conduct meeting again in the future," Morning Star News reported John said.

The following Sundays, Sept. 15 and Sept. 22, however, the pastor was able to lead worship services under police protection.

"The police did not file First Information Report against the attackers, as Pastor John chose to forgive the attackers," attorney Muragavel said.

In April last year, Hindu extremists attacked an assistant pastor of Living Hope Church in the same area. He was hospitalized for about a week with serious injuries.

In Ilkal Bagalakote on Aug. 24, a pastor identified only as Samson of Jehovah Shalom Prayer House was rushed to the hospital with bleeding nose and ears after Hindu extremists beat him just two days af ter assaulting another pastor, identified only as Kotresh, in Jagalur tilak, Davengere.

Two weeks earlier in Mobanahalli, Chitradurga, Morning Star News said Pastor Parama Jyothi lost three front teeth from a Hindu extremist attack, according to advocacy groups.

Also in August, Hindu extremists drove Pastor Devu Gowli, his wife and one-month-old baby from Mundgodu, Karwar, according to advocacy groups.

Hindu extremists also beat a Christian couple, Soma Shekhar and his wife Kusumabai, and chased them from their village after they refused to renounce Christ.

Three Christians were arrested in August after Hindu extremists accused them of forceful conversion on in Honnavar, Uttara Kannada.

On Aug. 31 Thimdoli in Belgaum, Hindu extremists broke into the houses of two Christian families identified only as Suresh and Gangadhar, badly beat them, took them to the Hindu temple and tried to force them to worship idols.

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