By Santosh Digal, Worthy News Asia Correspondent reporting from India
NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News)-- Hindu and Muslim militants have attacked several Christians and a church in several incidents across the country as part of efforts to crackdown on the spread of Christianity in the country, Christians said.
In one incident, Pastor Mallappa Hanumanthappa Andrew of the evangelical Samadhana Prayer House and his brother were attacked October 20 by some six extremists while walking on a village road in the state of Karnataka, local Christians said.
The Hindu militants reportedly accused them of forcing Hindus to turn to Christianity, charges they strongly denied. They also burned down the home that was used for church meetings, locals said.
Police reportedly briefly detained four suspects, but released them two hours later. It was not clear when and if court procedures were to follow. Elsewhere in the state, police detained Pastor Muthyalan Paul on October 26 in an area of the city of Bangalore, just shortly after alleged Muslim extremists stormed a prayer meeting and accused him of "forceful" conversion, Worthy News learned.
They also tore Bibles and damaged household items, witnesses said.
Police, supported by the Muslim extremists, charged the pastor with "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of others," Noel Kotian, a local pastor told Worthy News.
A judge sent the pastor to Nelamangala Sub-Jail, but with area Christian leaders’ intervention he was released on bail the next morning, Christians said.
The attacks followed violence in the volatile state of Orissa where Hindu-militants confined three recent converts to Christianity in a house and assaulted them to force them to "deny their new faith", local missionary Ashish Parida told Worthy News. Aswini Sahu, Sanatana Jena and Amulya Swain were targeted because they became Christians six months ago after listening to Christian radio broadcasts, the missionary added.
"When the Hindu extremists learned of it, they threatened them and expelled them from the village after the Christians continued to worship Christ." The Christians took shelter in different homes, and then went back to their village after receiving word by telephone things were settled, he said.
However, "as soon as they returned, however, the extremists caught hold of them, beat them and confined them," on October 14, Parida explained. "With area Christian leaders’ intervention, police rescued the Christians and warned the extremists not to disturb them again."
There were also reports of attacks in the central state of Chhattisgarh where a Hindu mob reportedly tried to take over the premises of the Indian Pentecostal Church.
Hindu extremists attempted to make a Hindu temple of the church after local children claimed they saw a Hindu idol image in a tree in the church premises, Christians said.
Church pastor Zachariah Menon and others have been meeting police and state officials following the October 22 incident, according to local Christians. Hindu militants, but in some cases also Muslim extremists, are increasingly cracking down on devoted Christians in the predominantly Hindu nation, said rights groups and Christian leaders.