Tuesday, May 17, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– An angry mob attacked a team of the international Christian organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in India's southern state of Karnataka and forced them to bow down for an idol in a Hindu temple, BosNewsLife learned Monday, May 16.
The incident took place May 5 in Kalkari village in Karnataka's northern district of Dharwad, but details have only now emerged, apparently because of security concerns.
A YWAM representative in Karnataka, Jiggu Bogi, confirmed to the BosNewsLife New Delhi Bureau that the seven man and five women "were mishandled" and dragged to a Hindu temple, "where they were asked to bow down before an idol."
It was not clear if any of the team members had complied. Soon after, Hindu militants accompanied them to a police station where "they were accused of disrupting peace," Bogi added. But he stressed the complaint against the Christians, who were all Indian nationals but not from Karnataka state, "has been withdrawn." There were no reports of serious injuries.
Bogi explained the YWAM team and a local evangelist had gone to Kalkari village to meet with a new believer belonging to the generally affluent Linghayat people group, which is seen as a 'higher caste' in Hinduism but has only a few known Christians.
"While returning from the believer's house, three young men stopped the Christians and tried to start arguing with them about the purpose of their visit. While they managed to escape without getting into an argument, they were soon stopped by another group of three young men who mishandled them" before escorting the team to a Hindu temple.
"The mob also tried to extort 10,000 Indian Rupees" (about 233 US Dollars) from the Christians, he added. Some local leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party which human rights groups blame for anti-Christian violence, reportedly also came to the temple with local police and media persons.
"The police took them to the police station in [nearby] Heranhalli, where they had to stay for about eight hours. Their [the mob] spoke degradingly about the women, and made fun of our Lord," Bogi recalled. "Mockingly they asked the team members to share their testimonies, and sing a Christian hymn. Two team leaders saw it as an opportunity to witness about their changed lives, and sang the song 'More Love, More Power,'", Bogi told BosNewsLife.
In a surprise move, the atmosphere apparently changed and "when the police heard that the Christians were forced to pay 10,000 Indian Rupees, they reprimanded" the Hindu mob, Bogi said. The police reportedly said to the YWAM team that they "had the right to believe in any God and preach their religion."
According to a 2001 Census, Christians form less than two percent of the total population of 52.8 million in Karnataka, which YWAM sees it as a mission field. The organization has offices throughout India dealing with several activities, including evangelization, training and distributing aid. YWAM said it has trained over 500 missionaries in the last decade in its office in Bangalore, Karnataka’s capital.
Each year over 30,000 people are reportedly involved in YWAM’s short-term projects worldwide and mobile ministries have gone into every country. Over 12,000 people work as YWAM staff members at 700 centers in 135 nations, raising their own financial support from churches and other sources, the organization said. (Based in New Delhi, Journalist Vishal Arora, 33, has covered persecution and other hard hitting news stories for a variety of international and national publications. He has traveled around the country on invitation by NGOs for seminars and talks on human rights, communalism, and religious persecution. Vishal Arora can be contacted at e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website http://www40.brinkster.com/vishalarora/ )