Tuesday, 17 May 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- An uneasy calm returned to a Protestant church in India's southern state of Karnataka this Pentecost weekend, after dozens of Hindu militants attacked the congregation, injuring the pastor and his associate, a church official said.
"The attack took place right after the Sunday worship at an Assembly of God (AG) congregation in Shrirangapattana Taluka near Mysore," May 1 said the injured pastor Samuel, who refused to give his last name apparently for security reasons.
"There were about 60 people in the church, which meets in a rented house," he told BosNewsLife. The attackers were allegedly members of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council.
"They entered the church and started hitting Mr. Kumar, the associate pastor and me. Then, they dragged Mr. Kumar and me outside the prayer hall and beat us for more than one hour. The attackers [also] threatened believers," he said.
Samuel stressed that he and his colleague were still suffering from "internal injuries." The AG pastor claimed one of the attackers identified himself as a general secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party.
The BJP was not available for comment, but it had previously expressed its opposition to what it regards as the "forced conversion of Hindu's" who form the majority in India.
After beating Samuel and Kumar, the attackers took the two men to a local police station and accused them of conversion, the pastor said. He said that "instead of protecting us" the police "registered a complaint" and demanded in writing that they would no longer hold "any Christian meeting in the house in Shrirangapattana in the future."
Only after they gave the promise in writing, the police quashed the complaint against them, he alleged. It was not clear where he would organize future meetings.
This month's attack was the latest in a series of reported violent incidents against the AG church and other believers. The pastor and his associate were also attacked in April last year and allegedly beaten inside their church before being taken to the same police station where they claimed they were kept "for one whole night."
In addition, police in nearby Pandavpur district asked some well-known pastors two years ago to give in writing that they would not conduct any Christian worship services in the future, BosNewsLife established. Church sources claim that "many pastors" have also been mistreated in the same district.
MISSION YOUTH ATTACKED
The reported incident this month, came just days before a team of the international Christian organization Youth With A Mission was attacked in the same state by an angry mob. There were no reports of serious injuries in that violence.
Of the 52.8 million-strong population of Karnataka, only one million are Christians, according to 2001 official estimates. (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 email@example.com or visit his website )