India: Hindu Extremist Arrested for Assaulting Evangelist

Monday, December 11, 2006

December 8 (Compass Direct News) -- Police in Honavar, a coastal town in Karnataka state on Tuesday (December 5) arrested Chandrashekar Naik, a member of the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal, for assaulting a Christian evangelist. Later that day, Bajrang Dal members seized two other Christians in the town, marched them to the police station and accused them of attempted forcible conversion.

The first victim, Mayaeshak Baila, had gone to nearby Gersoppa village for a prayer meeting. Naik came up to him as he waited for a bus after the prayer meeting and questioned him extensively about his activities in the village.

“When he realized I was a Christian, he slapped and hit me with his fists on my face and head,” Baila said. “He abused me in filthy language. Then he threw me down on the road and continuously kicked me on my ribs and stomach and back.”

Naik accused Baila of forcibly converting Hindu villagers and “warned me not to enter this village again, or it would cost me my life,” Baila added.

Naik then picked up a wooden stump, but passersby intervened, and Baila was able to escape.

Baila filed a complaint at the Honavar police station. Police arrested Naik and charged him under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for causing hurt, intentional insult and criminal intimidation.

“The beatings were severe, and the marks were visible on [Baila’s] body,” police inspector S.L. Naik confirmed to Compass.

The Bajrang Dal member was quickly released on bail, however, alarming other Christians in the community.

Two Christians Held Overnight

Later that day, two other Bajrang Dal members assaulted Joseph Lopes and Agnel Dias, who were visiting Christian homes in Honavar village. Both Lopes and Dias were carrying Bibles.

The Hindu extremists dragged Lopes and Dias to the police station, where they accused them of preaching the gospel with the intent to forcibly convert Hindu villagers. Both men were detained overnight at Honavar police station and released the following morning.

“They questioned us the entire night,” Dias told Compass. “They were rude and aggressive at first, but they didn’t harm or threaten us.”

Several Bajrang Dal members, incensed at the arrest of Naik, waited outside the police station until the early hours of the morning. Inspector Naik claimed he had held Lopes and Dias overnight for their own safety.

Arrests in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu state, in southern India, police arrested around 300 members of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) on Sunday (December 3) as they attempted to carry out a Hindu religious rite on a hillside close to St. Anthony’s Chapel. The church is located at Chunkaankadai, Kanya Kumari district.

“They came in jeeps armed with saffron flags and posters and demanded that they be allowed to perform the religious ritual of lights,” Father Hilarias, who goes by a single name, told Compass.

Hindus have a tradition of lighting oil lamps at various temples and on hillsides on the full moon day of the Tamil month of Karthigai, which fell this year on December 3.

Police, however, had erected a barricade and immediately arrested those who tried to break through it.

Copyright © 2006 Compass Direct