India: Anti-Christian Attacks Mark New Year

Monday, January 8, 2007 | Tag Cloud

NEW DELHI (Compass Direct News) -- After launching several anti-Christian attacks during the last week of 2006, Hindu extremists went on to beat more Christians, vandalize vehicles and organize a protest rally against a church, dampening New Year celebrations.

Extremists beat four pastors and vandalized a vehicle in the north central state of Uttar Pradesh state on Tuesday (January 2). They attacked two more Christians and damaged another vehicle in neighboring Madhya Pradesh state, while others staged an anti-Christian rally in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the same day.

At midday on Tuesday (January 2), around 200 members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), attacked four pastors of the Brethren Assembly church in Indrapuram, near Delhi, Uttar Pradesh. The victims, identified as Samuel John, George Thomas, Abraham George and V.P. Paulouse, received internal injuries.

“We were attacked while we were distributing tracts on God’s love to the local residents,” George told Compass.

George said the attackers accused the pastors of offering money to Hindus for their conversion to Christianity, an allegation that he denied. The extremists also badly damaged a car belonging to Pastor Paulouse.

After the attack, the mob dragged the Christians to the local police station. Officers kept the injured Christians in the police station for more than four hours but did not register the extremists’ complaint of forced conversions. Police also refused to file an incident report on behalf of the Christians.

When the All India Christian Council (AICC) offered assistance in lodging an official complaint, the pastors said they preferred not to press charges. “We are Christians, and we believe in forgiveness,” George said.

Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the AICC, condemned the attack. “The fact that Christians can be attacked in the National Capital Region (NCR) reflects how insecure we are in this country,” he told Compass. The NCR includes Delhi and neighboring cities of Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

Madhya Pradesh Attack

The same day, extremists of the Dharma Sena (Religious Army) beat two Christians in Devera village in the Singroli area of Madhya Pradesh.

The Rev. Madhu Chandra of the AICC told Compass that local Christians Shyam Sunder and Ram Deen received injuries in the chest and legs. He said the attack took place when nine Christians – guests of Nahum Das, a local Christian belonging to an independent church – were visiting Tez Bali, a believer in Devera village.

When the Christians were in Bali’s house, local residents told them that Hindu extremists were approaching to launch an attack. Hearing the news, Bali hid the nine guests in a room and locked it from the outside.

The extremists, however, damaged the boundary wall and broke into the house. They also broke the lock of the room where the Christians were hiding and beat Sunder and Deen. They also vandalized a car belonging to Das in which the Christian visitors were traveling.

When Das was informed about the attack, he called the police, who rescued the Christian visitors. The police reluctantly registered a complaint against the attackers after the intervention of a government official.

“To justify their attack, the extremists lodged a counter complaint against the Christians accusing them of conversions,” a representative of the Christian Legal Association of India told Compass.

Police registered a case against the victims for disturbing religious harmony under the Indian Penal code and for “indulging in conversions” under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act.

Police had not arrested anyone at press time and were investigating the complaints.

Anti-Christian Rally

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organized a protest rally against the construction of a building by the Good Shepherd Community Church (GSCC) in Rodham, Ananthapur district, Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday (January 2).

According to an AICC report, a leader of the RSS, identified only as Giri, and a BJP leader, Lokesh Gupta, gathered about 200 people raising objections to the GSCC’s plan to construct a church near a Hindu temple. The crowd also accused the church of converting Hindus in the area.

Hindu extremists had on Christmas Eve burned down a church, arrested carol-singers and disrupted yuletide services in several states.

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