Hindu Extremists Beat Pastor in Karnataka State, India

Friday, June 16, 2006

Assailants threaten to build temple on site of proposed church.
by Vishal Arora

NEW DELHI, June 15 (Compass Direct) -- Hindu extremists on Sunday (June 11) dragged an independent pastor to a police station in Karnataka state, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity.

They beat Pastor Sundar Rao severely both inside the police station and after he was released on Monday (June 12). The pastor has since been hospitalized with internal injuries and multiple contusions, but no fractures.

Rao was visiting his sister’s house in Namthi village, Devangere district, on the day of the attack. A group of about 150 people gathered outside while he conducted a prayer meeting. When Rao emerged from the house at 4 p.m., they asked if he was a pastor. Around 50 people then forcibly dragged him to the Namthi police station and assaulted him.

The police were mute spectators to the beatings, a local Christian who requested anonymity told Compass.

“The extremists forced Rao to sign a piece of blank paper inside the police station,” the source added. “They also told him the land he had bought for a church would instead be used for constructing a temple.”

Rao conducts prayer meetings in his rented house on Sundays, and he had planned to build a small church on a plot of land nearby.

The police apparently asked Rao to leave the station at midnight, but he refused to go, knowing that a crowd of hecklers was still waiting outside.

Early the next morning, a legislator from the Bharatiya Janata Party came to the station to show solidarity with the attackers; he also asked the police not to release Rao.

Officers, however, released Rao at 3:30 p.m. on Monday (June 12) with no protection. The crowd waiting outside the police station assaulted him.

“He somehow managed to get onto a bus, intending to get home, but the mob stopped the bus and beat him once again,” the source said.

When Rao’s wife went to the police station on Tuesday (June 13), officers refused to accept a formal complaint.

Rao’s wife and a few other Christian leaders then requested a meeting with Superintendent of Police Soni Narang.

“When I spoke to Narang on June 14, she said Rao had not filed a complaint,” said attorney Nova Bethania, secretary of the Karnataka chapter of the Christian Legal Association of India. “She also said Rao’s wife and the other Christians gave her nothing in writing, and that therefore she could not register a complaint.”

Bethania also said the police told Rao they had detained him to protect him from his attackers.

In desperation, Rao’s wife traveled to police district headquarters in Devangere, where she was finally able to register a complaint. At press time, however, police had arrested none of the attackers.

Hindu Extremists Attack Church in Madhya Pradesh State
by Nirmala Carvalho

Hindu extremist Yogesh Agarwal led another attack today on a church in Gorakhpur, Jabalpur district, in Madhya Pradesh state.

The church was conducting the first day of a three-day Bible workshop for 27 Christians in the district.

Pastor Vijay Sethi said the program was focused on training in Christian living and it had “nothing to do with conversion or baptism.”

As soon as the program began however, police accompanied by Agarwal and the activists arrived and began questioning the organizers about the nature of the program.

Agarwal, a key leader of the Hindu extremist Dharma Sena, claimed the program was “an attempt to convert and we object to any sort of forced conversion.”

Police took the Christians to the local station along with the activists. Superintendent Shri Shrinivas Rao said they were only taken in for questioning and he had not registered a case against anyone.

“After recording statements, all the Christians have been set free,” he said.

Yesterday (June 14), the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh promised protection for the minority Christian community.

The Dharma Sena’s Agarwal has been implicated in several attacks against Christians. Last week (June 6) he threatened to burn alive dinner guests of Jabalpur Christian Meera Bai, accused of forcible conversion, when officers took the guests to the police station for questioning (see Compass Direct, “Police in India Force Neighbor of Christian to File Charge,” June 9).

Copyright 2006 Compass Direct