Karnataka, August 21 (Compass Direct News) – About 100 Hindu extremists disrupted an August 17 worship service, attacked Christians and destroyed church furniture and music instruments in Davengere. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the extremists, headed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) leader Deepak Ranode and three others barged into Jesus Prayer Hall armed with sticks and saffron-colored flags chanting anti-Christian slogans. The assailants threatened the believers and pressured them to give false statements accusing the pastor and others of “alluring” people to convert to Christianity. When the Christians refused, the Hindu extremists began assaulting them and smashing church furniture and musical instruments. Two Christians identified only as Rodrappa, 50, and Ramesh, 25, were injured and received hospital treatment. A GCIC representative told Compass that the two parties met at the office of the District Collector and reached a compromise, with the official ordering the extremists not to attack the Christians again.
Madhya Pradesh – Police on August 15 detained two Christians in Ratlam district for “forced conversion” under the so-called Freedom of Religion Act after about 35 Hindu extremists stormed a prayer meeting organized by the Union of Evangelical Students at St. Bartholomew Church, Railway Colony area. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that on the occasion of India’s Independence Day, nearly 75 believers belonging to various Christian groups including Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and World Vision had congregated at the church when the extremists began beating them and chased them away, forcing a few into a local police station. Sam Mathew, GCIC regional coordinator, told Compass that soon additional forces swelled the number of the mob to nearly 70. “Amos Avula of YWAM, who was earlier targeted by the extremists, was questioned and allowed to return home,” Mathew said. “However, police arrested Satyanarayan Rao and another believer identified only as N.T. Murti. They were released on bail on August 16 at 4:30 p.m.”
Karnataka – Hindu extremists on August 15 tore up tracts and beat Bible College students in Bajpai, Mangalore district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that at 2:30 p.m., after Independence Day celebrations, six Bible College students accompanied by a warden identified only as Martha P. went to Panambur Beach to distribute Christian literature. Local pastor Sunny Mathew told Compass that neither the students nor the warden were aware that they were being watched by two Hindu extremists as they handed out tracts to people on the beach. The extremists phoned other intolerant Hindus who arrived at the beach, swelling the mob to 30, and surrounded the students, kicking and punching them after destroying their pamphlets. Two students were injured. Police took the students and extremists to the police station. With GCIC intervention a compromise was reached and no case was registered against either the students or the extremists.
Karnataka – In Davengere, Hindu extremists belonging to the Hindu Jagarana Vedike and Shiva Sainya youth association on August 12 surrounded the house of a pastor, threw stones at it and demanded that all senior pastors leave the district. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that a mob of about 200 extremists stoned the house of pastor Prem Kumar, demanding that he and two other senior pastors leave. They warned the pastors not to conduct any future prayer and worship services in their homes. Carrying their anti-Christian campaign throughout the district, they visited people who had recently shown interest in Christianity and demanded to know what inducement they had been offered to convert. Following the advice of police officials, many pastors fled their homes leaving their wives and children behind. GCIC told Compass that the atmosphere was still tense at press time, and police were reluctant to take any action against the extremists.
Karnataka – Police in Karnataka on Aug 11 arrested a pastor and an evangelist for hurting religious sentiments and making derogatory remarks about Hindu gods after Hindu extremists attacked them and their house church in Yemanna Bethur, Harpanahalli taluk, Davangere district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians said that at around 5:45 p.m. nearly 20 Hindu extremists allegedly belonging to the Shiva Sainya youth association attacked house church pastor Rajendra Gowda’s prayer service, slapping and punching him and an evangelist identified only as Kumara. The intolerant Hindus threatened members of the congregation and chased them away. They ripped the shirts of Gowda and Kumara, tied their hands to a van that had saffron flags and posters of Hindu gods on it, and forced the Christians to walk nearly seven kilometers (about four miles). The exhausted church leaders were then pushed into the van and taken to the Davangere rural police station nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, with the extremists slapping and punching them in the van on the way. Police arrested Gowda and Kumara after extremists registered a false complaint against them of outraging religious feelings and intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace. “Gowda and Kumara were released on bail on August 13 at 6:15 p.m.,” George said.
Karnataka – Hindu extremists belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh disrupted an August 10 worship service and injured believers in Gadag. Pastor Samuel Philip was conducting the service under police protection, having been warned the previous day of a possible attack, but the extremists seized the chance to attack when officers returned to the police station, reported the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The intolerant Hindus barged into the church and attacked the pastor and other Christians, with the injured receiving first aid at a local hospital. GCIC told Compass that the Christians and the extremists have reached a compromise, and police assured the Christian community of future protection.
Chhattisgarh – Three Hindu extremists on August 10 assaulted Pastor Dev Kumar Sahu in Chalaty village, Ambagarh Chowki, Rajnandgaon district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said Sahu of Indian Full Gospel Church was commissioned by his senior pastor, the Rev. K.J. George, to visit house churches in Chalaty village. As Sahu was sipping a beverage at a tea stall in Chalaty, area Hindu extremist Tulsi Ambade came up to him and angrily questioned him about the reason for his visit to the village. Ambade falsely accused him of forced conversions, George said, and two other extremists joined in and repeatedly kicked and punched the pastor while shouting filthy curses at him. They left only after Sahu collapsed to the ground. Sahu later filed a complaint against the extremists at the local police station. “Sahu had recently undergone a hernia operation,” Rev. George, the senior pastor, told Compass. “He had swollen arms, legs and face from the extremists’ attack and was admitted to a private nursing home for treatment.” With Rev. George’s intervention Ambade and Sahu reached a compromise: Tulsi agreed not to harass the Christians in the village, and Sahu forgave him and withdrew the case on August 19.
Karnataka – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists on August 8 attacked a prayer meeting, then beat and falsely accused a pastor of forcible conversion in Kodipura village, Ramanagara district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that as pastor M. Mahesh of Agape Church was conducting a thanksgiving prayer service at the house of a church member identified only as Lokesh for 12 people, a mob of around 15 extremists led by persons identified only as Ganesh and Madesh barged into the house. The intolerant Hindus loudly cursed at the pastor and others and disrupted the service. George told Compass that the extremists falsely accused Mahesh of “alluring” villagers to convert to Christianity and warned Lokesh to stop future Christian prayers in his house. The extremists phoned local police as the anti-Christian mob swelled to nearly 50. Police brought the pastor and Lokesh to the police station, where the extremists shouted Hindu devotional chants. Police permitted Mahesh and Lokesh to leave the station at about 11 p.m. “With GCIC’s intervention, a First Information Report was registered against the extremists,” George said. “Police arrested three extremists and released them on bail.”
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists on August 7 forcibly tried to occupy land belonging to a church and school in Ranga Reddy district. The All Indian Christian Council of India reported that the extremists forcibly occupied the land in front of JW International School and a church and erected a temporary Hindu temple. After school officers filed a complaint, government officials destroyed the temple, telling the Hindus they could not build such a structure on the land without permission. The next day, about 400 intolerant Hindus gathered at the site, beating drums and holding flags, and erected the structure anew. Once again the government demolished it. Later that evening, the extremists stoned the church and school buildings. With the intervention of police officials, the Hindu extremists left the school area.
Karnataka – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists on August 4 broke open the locked gate of a Christian elementary school, stormed the principal’s office and demanded replacement of a Christian cross with a Hindu OM symbol in Mudhol, Bagalkot district. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) told Compass that at around 3:30 p.m. a mob of nearly 35 Hindu extremists armed with saffron-colored, triangular flags and wooden batons broke into the Samuel Memorial Convent School. They angrily demanded that principal Margaret Samuel replace the cross in the school logo with the OM symbol and instructed her to install idols of Hindu gods in the corridors. They also demanded that pictures of Saraswati Devi, the Hindu goddess of learning, be framed in the principal’s office, and warned that there would be repeated attacks on the school if their demands were not met. “Around 5:30 p.m., Mrs. Samuel called for an emergency Parent-Teachers Association [PTA] meeting,” George said, “wherein with GCIC support, she apprised the PTA of the extremists’ attacks and demands on the school. The PTA pledged their support to the Christian institution and took a resolution not to give in to the extremists.” Started in 2005, the school has 625 students.
Madhya Pradesh – Members of the Hindu fundamentalist Abhinav Bharat and other groups attacked pastor Sam Oommen and his family at Jayprakash Nagar, Adhartal, Jabalpur district on August 3. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that a mob of nearly 45 Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh began shouting “Jai Shri Ram [Hail Lord Ram]” outside Pastor Oommen’s home, where his house church meets. Oommen and his family, not home at the time, returned at 3:30 p.m. but extremists prevented them from entering their house. Police were reportedly silent spectators while the assailants harassed Pastor Oommen and his family. The attackers accompanied by police dragged the 43-year-old pastor of a Full Gospel Church home fellowship and his wife, Jessy Sam, and two children to the Adhartal police station, where the couple was charged with forcible conversion. Pastor Oommen’s children were sent home at 5 p.m. According to Assistant Sub-Inspector Saras Tripathi, electrician Hemant Kumar Sahu filed the complaint. Sahu met the couple in May when he went to the house to fit electrical equipment. He told police that Pastor Oommen and his wife subsequently “brainwashed” him on the pretext of praying for his ailing mother, forced him to be baptized and asked him to remove pictures of Hindu gods from his home. Sahu also said that the couple promised him that his mother’s medical expenses would be paid and that he should denounce Hindu gods and goddesses. Sahu told police that the resulting heavy mental stress led him to report the matter to Abhinav Bharat extremists, who along with the other Hindu nationalist groups then staged a demonstration demanding police action. Leading the Abhinav Bharat mob was state organization Vice Chairman Maya Ram Jethwani, who spoke to local media and accused the church of operating illegally. He also said a conspiracy by Christian missionaries was underway to convert the entire area and called for an investigation. Pastor Oommen and Christian leaders of Jabalpur denied the charges, which they say are concocted. Police locked up the church and put security guards in place. Pastor Oommen and his wife were released on bail on August 6.
Karnataka – Police on July 31 arrested Christians of the Believers Church in Turuvekere, Tumkur district after Hindu extremists allegedly belonging to the Ram Sena (Army of Ram) attacked a prayer meeting, beating Christians present. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that at around 8 p.m. nearly 30 Hindu extremists armed with wooden clubs stormed a dedication prayer service at the house of a believer identified only as Ramkrishnappa. The intolerant Hindus beat a pastor identified only as Shivshankar H.D. and four other Christians and destroyed 18 Bibles. They then took the Christians to the Turuvekere police station and registered a First Information Report (FIR) against them for inciting communal disharmony. Dr. Sajan K. George of the GCIC told Compass that police registered no counter FIR against the extremists. George has written to the National Human Rights Commission seeking justice for the Christians, who were released on bail on August 8.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists on July 29 attacked Christian students, accusing them of distributing Christian literature to “forcefully convert” college students, and burned and dumped three boxes of Christian books in a ditch in Miryalyuda, Nalgonda. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that two young Christian women were distributing gospel tracts among college students when three extremists seized the literature from them and burned it. Both parties have filed a police complaint. Moses Vattipalli of AICC told Compass that they have reached a compromise, with police assuring local Christian leaders of protection against such incidents in the future.
Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists belonging to the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party on July 27 attacked a pastor and a Christian media team for showing a film about Jesus Christ, tore the screen and burned it along with Bibles in Janagam. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 20 furious extremists barged into the home of a pastor identified only as Devadanam while about 100 people were watching the film and destroyed the projector, speakers and tables and threatened to kill the pastor if he tried screening the film again. The pastor filed a police complaint, and six attackers were taken to the police station. Dr. Sajan K. George of the GCIC told Compass that the attackers were released after a stern warning not to disturb the Christians again.
Karnataka – Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists on July 27 attacked a gospel meeting in Anugraha Hotel, Bagalkot district and beat the pastor and other Christians, including a 4-year-old girl. Dr. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said that nearly 40 extremists barged into the meeting hall cursing and beating pastor Basappa Durgappa of Free Fellowship Pentecostal Churches of Karnataka. They punched and slapped other Christians, including women and children. “The extremists flung chairs at the congregation, causing serious head injury to a 4-year-old child identified only as Priyanka, and four believers also suffered minor injuries,” George told Compass. The extremists also tore up nearly 100 Bibles and hymnals, he said. Police took the pastor, his wife and two daughters to the police station for interrogation, with the extremists shouting Hindu chants along the way. “The extremists filed a complaint against Durgappa, but with the intervention of the GCIC, Durgappa and his family were allowed to leave the police station around 10:30 p.m. and all the charges were dropped,” George said. “The Christians were treated at the Keruddi Hospital in Bagalkot, and Priyanka has received 13 stitches on her head.”
Karnataka – Police in India continued their custom of jailing Christian victims of Hindu aggression on July 27, arresting a pastor in Ankoal, Karwar district after nearly 20 Hindu extremists dragged him out of his house church service and repeatedly slapped him. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the intolerant Hindus barged into the house church of independent pastor Anand Huva Naik on Kenny Road, disrupted worship and cursed and slapped Naik before yanking him out of his home. They threatened the other Christians, including women, chasing the congregation away. Police who had prior information about the attackers’ intent arrived at noon and took the pastor to the Ankola town police station and charged him with intentional insult, provocation, breaking public peace and causing hurt. With the legal help of the GCIC, Naik was released at 1:45 p.m. the next day.
Orissa – In Badrak district, Hindu extremists on July 26 ruptured a believer’s eardrum and threatened to burn him alive. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Hindu extremists led by Utpal Nayak summoned Baloy Kumar Baraik, a Christian laboratory assistant at Sunshine Mission School, to the principal’s office. There Hindu extremists who formed part of the school’s management board beat and punched Baraik in the ear for nearly half an hour, forcing him to sign a blank document and threatening to burn him and his family in the same way that Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were killed in 1999. The Hindu extremist board members seek to remove all Christian staff members from the school. Baraik, who received hospital treatment for severe ear injuries, lodged a police complaint but no arrests had been made at press time. GCIC officials told Compass that the school management had fired Baraik from his job, but the rights organizations were taking the case to a higher court.
Karnataka – A mob of about 20 Hindu extremists vandalized a church building, seriously injured a pastor and accused him of forced conversion on July 20 in Konvallichawla, Haveri. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the intolerant Hindus barged into the Sunday worship service of Friends Prayer Band Church, brutally attacked the pastor and destroyed all Christian literature, including Bibles. The Hindu extremists took the pastor to the police station, where he collapsed from his injuries. Police initially refused to accept the complaint of assault by the pastor’s wife, Mary, instead threatening to throw the couple out of the district if they filed charges. The pastor was discharged from the hospital after receiving intensive care for three days. A case has been filed against the extremists, but no arrests had been made at press time.
Report from Compass Direct News