India Hindu Militants Attack Church In Tense State

Thursday, September 7, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Tensions remained high Wednesday, September 6, in an area of India's Jammu and Kashmir state after dozens of Hindu militants stormed a church and attacked Christians, including women and children, as they were attending a Sunday worship service, local Christians said.

The All India Christian Council (AICC), an influential advocacy group, said the militants also attacked seven Christians who are facing charges that include "forcible conversions."

They were earlier identified as the church's Pastors P.R. Anthony and Reji K. Sunny as well as Bible students Umesh Kumar, Tarsan Chand, Samuel Masih, Kamal Jeet and Baldev Raj, who are due to appear in court on September 16. Charges include forcible conversion of a youth belonging to the Sikh religion.


"Sushil Sooden, a leader of [the Hindu militant group] Bajrang Dal, brought along 40 Hindu activists" to beat up the Christians, Sunday morning, September 3 in church in the Shivagiri area of the state's Kathua district. Bajran Dal is following the ideology of Hindutva, or «Hinduness", a word used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism

"Children, women and their husbands numbering 20 were [also] brutally attacked during the prayer meeting. The incident took place in full daylight as well as in the presence of local media," said the group, which represents this and other churches across India.

Pastor Anthony was reportedly pulled out and beaten and nearly killed by several militants, Christians said.


"This attack on the life of Pastor Anthony and his church members happened in spite of the repeated assurance from the Senior Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Superintendent of Police," Sam Abraham, a local Christian leader, said.

Sam Abraham and the AICC have urged the Indian authorities and the country's Minority Commission to arrest those responsible "and render justice and protection to the Christian community in the state."

The reported attack is the latest in a series of incidents against Christians in the state and other areas of India. Most of India's roughly 1.1 billion people are Hindus, but militant groups have increasingly expressed concern over the spread of Christianity in especially rural areas of India and among tribes. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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