By Worthy News Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News)-- Eleven tribal Christians in India's southern state of Karnataka were freeon bail Wednesday, February 17, after Indian police detained them for several days for allegedly "forcefullyconverting" Hindus to Christianity, rights investigators and Christian leaders said.
Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) told Worthy News and its partner BosNewsLife agency that police arrested the group,including four women, on February 1 in Thagadur village after "Hindu extremists" accused them of theforced conversions apparently because they were involved in evangelism.
"The extremists dragged the Christians out of their homes and assaulted them before filing a policecomplaint," the latest in a series of attacks against minority Christians, ICC added.
In published remarks, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India said the Christians were "tortured" atthe local Siddapur police station to pressure them to admit to the charges.
Police denied wrongdoing.
CHRISTIANS IN JAIL
The Christians were sent to Madikere district jail on February 2, ICC said, but "With theintervention of Christian leaders, police released the eleven Christians on bail on February 4."The released Christians have reportedly denied the charges.
Most of the Christians inThagadur are tribal and make a living working as laborers in coffee plantation, ICC said.
Christian leaders linked the brief detention to security forces being "confused" by "Hindu extremistpropaganda" and said officials often "erroneously" believe that laws against "fraudulent conversion" apply to"any kind of proclamation of faith."
Yet, ICC said it wasn't surprised about the latest reported incident. "Indian officials routinely accuseChristians of forcefully converting Hindus. Such charges are made to stop Christians from evangelizing to Hindus."
MORE VIOLENCE REPORTED
Last year, the highest number of attacks against Indian Christians took place in the state of Karnataka,where these latest attacks occurred, the group added.
"We condemn the Indian police for arresting and torturing the eleven tribal Christians," said ICC’sRegional Manager for Africa and South Asia, Jonathan Racho.
He said his organization had urged Indian authorities to "stop targeting the victims of persecution and protect them against attacks by Hindu radicals."
India is a predominantly Hindu nation, but violence against devoted minority Christians have increased inseveral parts of the country, according to church groups and rights activists. (With Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).