India State Detains Young Christians for Preaching Gospel to Hindus, Report Says

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- There was concern Monday, November 6, about the whereabouts of four Christian youngsters amid reports they were detained more than a week ago in India's southern state of Karnataka on charges of "forcible converting Hindus."

The Christians, who have been identified only as Robin and girls Karen, Asha and Flavin, were taken into custody in the state's Markod area on Friday October 27, reported the regional online news service Dajiworld News Network (DNN).

Local police reportedly made the arrests after the leader of a Hindu hard-line group, Girish Kundapur, filed a complaint with police alleging the Christian group was “visiting the houses of Hindus and misleading the people.”

The youngsters have denied the charges, saying they were only preaching their faith in Jesus Christ. "We have not forced anyone to get converted. We do not believe in forceful conversion," they said.

Active Evangelical Christians in India have often said the Bible teaches that eternal life can only be based on a "free decision" for Christ as a personal Savior and Lord. Police said they have taken the youngsters in custody "and are investigating," DNN reported.

It comes amid concerns among Christians in Karnataka about growing Hindu extremism. Since September several anti-Christian incidents have occurred the state's Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, news reports said.


The incidents included the burning of paintings of Christ, attacks against worship services and the destruction of huts belonging to 'Dalits' seen as the lowest caste in India's ancient system, of Hinduism.

Most recently, Lambani tribal villagers in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping last Sunday, October 29, instead forcing them to bow down and worship Hindu idols, BosNewsLife monitored.

Earlier last month, Karnataka police arrested on October 14 eight Christian workers at a home for the destitute in Thyagarathi village, near Sagar, on charges of wrongful confinement and abduction. The detention happened after an estimated 500 villagers stormed the facility following false television news reports, Indian Christians said.


Tensions were also reported in September. On September 3, Hindu extremists attacked a 60-year-old evangelist in Guttigar village in Subramanaya district, Varghese Thomas, and his wife. reported Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency.

On his way to a meeting, the couple saw the apparent victim of a motorcycle accident lying in the middle of the road, and Thomas left his car to assist the victim. As soon as Thomas bent over the victim, however, the man threw red chili powder into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. A group of around 15 extremists hiding in the bushes nearby then jumped out and assaulted Thomas, accusing him of tricking people into coming to prayer meetings, said Compass Direct News.

Earlier on August 20, about 10 Hindu militants reportedly of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh group reportedly disrupted a Sunday service of the evangelical Good Shepherd Community Church in Kolar district.


Just a few days previously, on August 15, a police inspector and a large crowd of angry Hindus disrupted a prayer meeting in Ambedkar Beedhi of Malur town. They dragged guest speaker Rev. Peter Muniappa and a few others outside and punched them in the face, eyewitnesses said. The officers and Hindu extremists then took the Christians to the police station, where they severely beat Rev. Muniappa, reported Compass Direct News.

The same day, 15 members of the hard-line Hindu group Bajrang Dal apparently entered a district jail in Mardala and attacked Chetraven Rajan, a Christian businessman who fellow believers said had been falsely accused of compelling his wife to commit suicide. Prison authorities allegedly made no attempt to protect Rajan, nor did they file a case against the attackers, news reports said. Officials have not yet commented.

Christians have said that the anti-Christian attacks and arrests have increased in Karnataka since the government of the Janata Dal-Secular party, in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, took power from the Congress Party in February. Karnataka is not the only state with reports of persecution. In several areas of India, Hindu groups have complained about what they see as the spread of Christianity in India, a predominantly Hindu nation or roughly 1.1 billion people. (With reports from India).

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