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News Briefs on Recent Incidents of Persecution

2/2/07 India (Compass Direct) – Editor’s Note: Today Compass Direct News inaugurates an occasional series of news briefs in order to maintain a public record of persecution in countries where full coverage of the high volume of incidents would crowd reader in-boxes. Full-length news stories will be reserved for more serious cases.

Karnataka – Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal on January 11 beat Pastor David Paul, 29, and his wife Prasanna Kumari, 25, and drove them from their home in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore , Karnataka state. Local Christians were too terrified to offer the couple any assistance. The next day, Paul and his wife, who lead an independent church with 40 members, rented a small room in a slum colony in a neighboring locality. On January 15, a Hindu mob kicked open the door, ransacked the house and thrashed them again, accusing them of forcible conversions. Paul staunchly denied the allegations and demanded to be taken to the police station. Infuriated, the extremists verbally abused them for nearly an hour and then marched them off to the police station, where the pastor and his wife were questioned for nearly two hours before being released. – NC

Himachal Pradesh – A large number of Hindu extremists allegedly belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on January 21 gathered outside the house of Pastor Timuhias Behal in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district and demanded that he close down his Peniel Prarthana Bhawan prayer hall and orphanage and move out of the area. “The mob shouted anti-Christian slogans against the Peniel Prarthana Bhawan and accused me of converting Hindus, of asking them to throw away idols of Hindu gods, of spoiling local culture and of indulging in flesh trade,” Behal told Compass. The mob also submitted a memorandum to district authorities stating the allegations against him. Behal said the allegations were false and that all the children at the orphanage were from Christian families. Behal added that the police had lodged a complaint against the mob and were investigating it. – VA

Karnataka – Hindu extremists with saffron flags on January 19 caused a commotion outside a house where two pastors – the Raj Shekhar, 42, and Raja Naik, 46 – were holding a prayer service in Gokul village, near Hubli in north Karnataka state. They hurled loud, angry insults at Shekhar and called the police, accusing the pastors of forcible conversions. They then entered the house and attacked the pastors and others. Police arrived during the assault, and instead of apprehending the extremists took the pastors and two Christian women to the police station. Police released Naik immediately but freed Shekhar and the two women five hours later. – NC

Uttar Pradesh – From 25 to 30 Hindu extremists of the VHP and Bajrang Dal disrupted an inter-faith meeting in Chakeri district, Kanpur , Uttar Pradesh state on January 21, presuming it to be a Christian prayer gathering. Local sources told Compass that the presence of two white-skinned believers from the United States caused the extremists to believe that it was a Christian assembly. The extremists barged into the hall shouting “Jai Shree Ram [Hail God Ram],” kicked the lectern, damaged microphones, and verbally abused the speakers and foreigners in the hall as they accused them of attempting forcible conversions. – NC

Karnataka – A group of Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on January 24 surrounded and accused evangelist Subba Rao of forcible conversion in Harippana Halli, in Davangere district, Karnataka state. They accused him of luring innocent Hindu villagers to follow Jesus by inviting them to prayer meetings. When Rao denied their allegations, one of the RSS members slapped him. They then took him to the local police station, where they vehemently accused him of converting Hindu villagers. A policeman was a mute spectator to the incident. The extremists warned the 48-year-old Rao, of the Church of Christ , that they would force his wife Mary to mark her forehead with the tilak (red dot) if he did not stop his evangelical work. After these threats, they allowed Rao to leave. On January 22, a group of RSS members warned Pastor Neil Armstrong of Full Gospel Assembly that they had been keeping a surveillance on him and his activities. They warned him not to preach about Christ and stop his prayer meetings in Haripanna Halli. – NC

Bihar – A group of about 50 RSS extremists on January 28 barged into a prayer hall and attacked Pastor Bharat Kumar of Manav Mukti Mission during worship at Sasaram town, Rohtas district, in Bihar state. Shouting slogans and Hindu devotional chants, the mob began assaulting the 35 believers present. Ten Christians sustained injuries, including deep gashes to the head and swollen arms and legs. They were admitted to the local village hospital for treatment and discharged. The extremists burned Bibles, chairs, a table, songbooks, and other property. Pastor Kumar has filed a police complaint. – NC

Himachal Pradesh – Hindu extremists in Himachal Pradesh state on January 18 allegedly pressured two residents of the Last Resort drug-rehabilitation center to file false complaints against a pastor and three Christian workers. The center is situated in Khokhan village, Kullu district. Police arrested Pastor Rajesh Toppo and three counselors – Zamlianthang Singsit, Gopal Singh Bhatia and Thangkholal Haokip – the same day on charges of illegally confining and hurting the religious feelings of the two residents, identified only as Vinod Saini and Amos. The four Christians were released on bail the following day. The complainants, who fled from the center on January 16, told the Christian Legal Association of India that a member of the VHP had forced then to approach the police and that they wished to withdraw the complaint, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India. – VA