Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Christians in South India Endure Arson, Attacks, Accusation

Compass Direct News

November 27 2006

At least five violent incidents take place in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala this month.

by Vishal Arora

NEW DELHI – Four actions against Christians, including the burning of a church, recently took place in Andhra Pradesh, while neighboring Kerala state saw an attack on four pastors.

Organizers of a prayer meeting by the Seventh Day Adventist in Vishakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh called it off after a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) leader lodged a police complaint against them on Thursday (November 23), said Sam Paul, public relations secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC).

“In the name of healing and prayer meetings, the Christian missionaries are carrying out conversions,” a city VHP general secretary identified only as Neelakantham told a regional daily, The Deccan Herald. “Their prime motive is evangelism.”

Evangelism is not illegal in India , though some states have laws against “forcible conversion” by coercive or fraudulent means. Such “anti-conversion” laws are in force in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa and Arunachal Pradesh, where Hindu extremists regularly use them to file false charges of “forcible conversion” to further nationalist interests. Gujarat state has yet to frame rules under which its act can be enforced, and Tamil Nadu state is in the process of repealing its anti-conversion law.

The VHP also objected to an Australian national, John Carter, speaking at the meeting.

A senior police official said that the case was under investigation.

Church Set Aflame

On November 17, Hindu extremists set fire to a church in Dubbaka village, in the Dharapalli Mandal area of Nizamabad district, the AICC’s Paul said.

He said the extremists poured gas on the wooden doors of the Pentecostal church and set it on fire in the morning. Villagers saw thick smoke coming out of the church and promptly extinguished the fire.

Paul said the doors were destroyed.

The pastor of the church, Mylaram Joseph, informed police and filed a complaint with the help of local AICC leaders. Police are investigating, but at press time no one had been arrested.

On November 16, Hindu extremists attacked a Catholic school in the Armor area of the same district.

“Around 30 people seemingly from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stormed the St. Ann ’s School on November 16 and started vandalizing the school property, including furniture and the vehicles parked inside the campus,” Albert Lael, organizing secretary of the AICC, told Compass. “They also abused the nuns, saying they would parade them naked.”

Lael said relatives of the attackers have approached the nuns urging them to withdraw the case. They also promised to pay for all the damage caused.

“The AICC is monitoring the situation, and the police seem to be taking it seriously,” he added.

Lael said the incident arose after school authorities had objected to a student wearing black clothes as a mark of devotion to a Hindu god instead of the school uniform. The authorities had called the parents of the child on November 15 to explain that students were allowed to wear only the uniform, and the following day the boy told the driver of an auto-rickshaw about the incident.

The driver allegedly prompted the Hindu extremists to attack.

School authorities filed a complaint against the attackers, and police are investigating.

Church Service Attacked

On November 3, extremists attacked an independent pastor in Nachupally village, in the Birkur Mandal area of the same district of Nizamabad.

Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told Compass that the attack took place when a pastor, identified only as Praharshi, was visiting a believer’s house in the village for prayer.

“When all the Christians were praying and singing to the Lord, a group of around 100 RSS youths intruded into the house and disturbed the gathering,” he said. “They severely beat the pastors and other believers with logs.”

The youths also damaged a motorcycle belonging to a Christian. The total number of those injured was unknown, but all victims were taken to a hospital and given first aid.

Four Pastors Beaten

The same day (November 3), Hindu extremists attacked four pastors of an Assembly of God church in Kerala state’s Alapuzha district.

The four, identified as Lallu Pappachen, Manoj Babu, K.J. Ebenezer and B. Jayachandran, were admitted to the government hospital in Harripad, the GCIC’s George said.

After the victims lodged a police complaint, the attackers got furious and launched an attack on the church. They destroyed equipment, furniture and the compound wall of the church.

Until a few years ago, the southern states were considered safe haven for Christians. But Hindu extremists have reportedly increased their activities in these states.