By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christian aid workers rushed to the southern Indian city of Hyderabad Sunday, August 26, as the death toll of powerful blasts rose to at least 42 there, while other Christian activists were busy helping churches attacked by suspected Hindu militants, BosNewsLife established.
"Our Andhra Pradesh co-coordinator with a team of volunteers helped in the hospitals" to treat those injured when bombs rocked a roadside food stall and an amusement park in Hyderabad late Saturday, August 25, within minutes of each other, said Sajan George, who leads advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
Hundreds of people were at the two popular spots when the bombs went off, eyewitnesses said. A laser show was ongoing in the amusement park when the explosion ripped through it and people who escaped the attack said seats were hurled high into the air by the force of the blast. The food stall was completely destroyed, television footage showed.
The attacks were believed to be religiously motivated as Hyderabad, one of India's biggest cities, has a large Muslim population and a history of communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Police and security experts have blamed past attacks on Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups.
Elsewhere however several Christians were wounded when suspected Hindu militants attacked churches Sunday, August 26, including in the town of Malur, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) from Bangalore, India's third largest city, BosNewsLife learned.
At least four people including Pastor Emmanuel Venketesh, a chuch leader of Dalit origin, were injured when he and other believers were beaten for one hour during a prayer meeting held in the home of a church member in Malur, George told BosNewsLife.
"While the prayer and worship meeting was progressing at 11.30 am [local time] about 25 activists of the Hindu Sangh Parivar group" raided the house and "started beating the pastor and others indiscriminately for an hour," George said. "Pastor Emmanuel faced the brunt of attack and one of the believer was stabbed in the skirmish. The Pastor and three believers were injured and have gone to the Malur hospital for treatment," he added.
Police officials reportedly tried to play down the incident, but after GCIC pressure agreed to press charges against those involved in the incident. In addition, in the state of Chattisgarh, Hindu militants raided a baptism service, BosNewsLife learned. "Pastor Charles Patel of an independent church in the Durg District "was thrashed by a mob of radical elements belonging to the [Hindu group] Dharam Sena," George explained.
Early Sunday, August 26, believers "had assembled during Christian Sunday worship where five Hindus had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and took water baptism," when the Hindu militants interrupted the service, the GCIC official said. "The Dharam Sena activists...barged into the church, shouting filthy curses and accusing Pastor Charles of forcibly converting people." Pastor Charles was being questioned Sunday, August 26, by local police," said George whose organization has close contacts with the church.
The GCIC has made clear however, that despite reports of persecution of Christians, it wants to be involved in helping people of all faiths, including Sunday, August 26, in the aftermath of bomb attacks in Hyderabad. International observers have expressed concerns about the religious tensions in India, a predominantly Hindu nations where religious minorities, including Christians, have complained about attacks and discrimination. (With reporting from India and BosNewsLife Research).
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