INDIA: More attacks on Christians in Karnataka

Karnataka Map On Sunday 5 December there were four attacks against Christians in Bangalore, the state capital of Karnataka. The first took place when Hindu extremists attacked a prayer hall during a worship service, terrorising and threatening about 50 worshippers.

Extremists beat up and dragged four Christians out of two other churches, and had them arrested on false charges of proselytism. In the fourth incident, a Pentecostal Church was surrounded by a group of 40 extremists who threw stones and shouted anti-Christian slogans.

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said: “The four attacks on the same day in Karnataka is reflective of the insecurity of the vulnerable minority Christian community and more importantly this is an indication of the climate of fear, persecution, harassment and terror in which Christians must practice their faith in this Bharatiya Janata Party-governed state. The Bajrang Dal activists continue to attack, beat and threaten the Christians. This is a real challenge to our secular democracy.” The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known in English as the Indian People’s Party, is strongly pro-Hindu.

The anti-conversion law is intended to outlaw forced conversions, but it is often misused to criminalise any conversions from Hinduism: extremists, with the complicity of local police, use the law to attack Christians. Such laws have been passed not only in BJP-governed states, but also in states governed by the Congress Party.

Christians in Karnataka are disappointed over the extension given to a commission enquiring into the attacks on more than 20 churches in September 2008 – the BJP extended the term of the commission by two months until 31 December. “The government does not seem to be serious about the early release of the commission report,” said Father M. K. George, a Jesuit and the director of Indian Social Institute in Bangalore. He criticised the “delaying tactics,” saying, “The government is lacking the political will to act”. The commission was constituted on 19 September 2009 for a period of three months; its term has been extended nine times. (Asia News,