Widespread Attacks Against India Christians Amid Tougher Laws

Monday, August 14, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in several states of India braced themselves Sunday, August 13, for a period of more violence amid fresh reports of attacks by Hindu militants and the adoption of tougher anti-conversion laws aimed at halting the spread of Christianity in the world’s largest Hindu nation of over one billion people.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), an influential advocacy group, told BosNewsLife it remains concerned over anti-Christian violence in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh where the parliament has enhanced their anti-conversion legislation to require religious converts to give one month notification in advance of conversion.

Apparently encouraged by political opposition to Christian mission activities, over 50 "masked radicals armed with clubs and bamboo sticks" attacked the Christian Home of Hope orphanage August 5, in the state's Ballod region in Denteware District and "mercilessly beat 35-year-old Eva Suresh", one of the staff members, said GCIC.

Suresh, who is still recovering from the injuries, also received death threats, while unspecified threats were also made against at least 20 children, the group added.

Hindu groups have accused Christian mission groups, including those running orphans, of carrying out "forced conversions," but missionaries have denied the charges.


Besides Chhattisgarh, the Madhya Pradesh State Government passed an identical amendment to their anti-conversion law the previous week, adding to pressure on the Christian minority, human rights watchers say.

Women from poor tribal families in Madhya Pradesh were recently raped by local Hindu militants after the village heads said that they could do what they pleased with the Christians. They also ordered them to leave the village leaving behind their lands and homes with all possessions, GCIC and other sources said.

In other states, Christians have also been persecuted for expressing their faith in public, Indian Christians say.

Hindu extremists reportedly threatened four Christian women accused of “forced” conversion in Tamil Nadu state, while two priests of a Catholic high school in neighboring Karnataka state have been attacked.


Albert Lael, organizing secretary of the advocacy group All India Christian Council, told Compass Direct News agency that police on August 5 led a team of four women from the Good Shepherd Community Church in Erode district of Tamil Nadu to reach a compromise agreement with the person who had accused them of forced conversion.

The women had shown a Christian film to about 150 people without incident. Under the agreement, the women are not to preach Christ to anyone who objects or expresses unwillingness to listen.

That same week, in Hebbagodi, near Karnataka’s capital of Bangalore, Father Soby Thomas, vice principal of St. Francis de Sales High School and school administrator Father Vinod Kanat were attacked on July 25.

The two priests were apparently attacked with cricket bats by a group of about 20 people outside the hostel for poor students at Kammasandra. Also in Karnataka, 26-year- old mother Manjula with a 15-days-old baby was threatened by 300 Hindu radicals in Soulanga village in Honnani Taluk, in Davangere district, said GCIC.


Manjula had been living alone for the last 15 as her husband, a pastor, reportedly was forced to flee from the village for fear of the radicals and the police. The attackers in the presence of police allegedly damaged the house of Manjula and threatened that she and the children "will be burnt alive" if they fail to leave the village within four days, GCIC added.

Widows testifying this month at the first one-day Prayer and Fellowship meeting of Persecuted Christians in Bangalore August 2 suggested taking these threats serious. The eight widows present were honored by the organizers with crowns, "symbolizing the crown of honor that their husbands had received from the Lord according to the Bible (Rev. 6) for their martyrdom," GCIC told BosNewsLife.

"This is an attempt to recognize and honor the sufferings of Christians who live in remote locations, facing intense and prolonged persecution for their faith. It is also to challenge Christians in the rest of the country with their stories," said GCIC President Sajan George. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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