Fifteen Indian Christians arrested in church surrounded by radical Hindu mob
Fifteen Christians from the parish of Jodukatte Puttur in the Indian state of Karnataka were arrested on New Year’s Eve when police stormed into in their local church while they were praying. Police alleged they acted to “protect” them from a radical Hindu mob that had gathered outside the church.
The Christian gathering to celebrate the New Year attracted the attention of two Hindu extremist ultranationalist groups, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who had planned to raid the church and stop the service before police intervened.
Fortunately the arrested Christians were released after a few hours. However police warned them against proselytizing, and told them that they must always inform the authorities before holding any prayer services or celebrations.
Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said that the Christian minority “is vulnerable and subjected to harassment and persecution by both extremist as well as authorities, who are responsible for protecting citizens. Clearly, Christians are considered second-class citizens in secular India.”
Commenting on the police intervention,George observed that the Hindu radicals had escaped arrest themselves while the police had “acted against people who were praying in a private place. The police should have only dispersed the mob that had gathered outside the church.”
Hindu radicals are often using Anti-Forced Conversion laws to persecute Christian leaders on false charges of converting Hindus, leading to arrests and prolonged court cases.Increased use of these laws could lead to even more violence against Indian Christians, who are a distinct but increasing minority, nationwide not just in a few villages. Reports indicate that Christians are sometimes even being pressured to reconvert to Hinduism.
Indian Christians have started a petition calling for local authorities in over 50 villages in the Bastar District of Chhattisgarh State to stop targeting Christians and charging them with crimes for which there is no evidence. They are asking the Prime Minister of India to address the banning of Christianityand promote religious tolerance and freedom.