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More violence against Christian workers in Karnataka: Three detained, beaten by police in Shimoga District

Global Council of Indian Christians

2/25/07 India (Persecution Update India ) – The rising incidence of violence against Christians in Karnataka continues, as we have been reporting. The latest incident happened in Kargil village in Shimoga District.

Devaraj started a Christian ministry in Kargil village, near Jog Falls , about 18 months ago. All was quite and peaceful till about a year passed. Devaraj has an effective prayer ministry through which many people received healing. As a result, a small body of believers began to gather. This caught the attention of some of the radical elements in the area, and slight opposition began to surface for the past three months.The police in the area, especially at the lower levels also shows signs of having been indoctrinated by the radical ideology.

On 20th Feb., Devaraj left to meet a colleague in Shimoga as he wished to travel to Chennai to visit his sister who is ill there. Shortly after his departure, a gang of 50-60 Bajrang Dal activists descended on his house but found him gone. They next went to the house of Shanmugam, who has a small business, and now a believer who became a devotee of Christ about 6 months ago, and questioned him as to why they were encouraging this man Devaraj, alleging that he was a terrorist from Sri Lanka (Devaraj is a Tamilian but grew up in Shimoga, which has a large Tamil population who go there to work in the estates. This trend of accusing Christians of being terrorists is new but is now being used here and there by the radical Hindu elements.). Devaraj came to know of this and stayed away. According to reports reaching GCIC’s offices on 22nd Feb., the police pulled in Shanmugam for questioning that morning. He was told by the police to find and bring Devaraj to the police station within two days, failing which they threatened to take action against him. (Police Sub-Inspector Hanumanthappa, Kargil Police Station, cell- 9448640038 and landline of the police station: 08186-240324)

But at 7:30 that same evening, the police again called Shanmugam, and two others, Pastor Nathaniel, a worker for another Christian Mission in the area, and Babu, a new seeker. The beat them up severely and demanded to know where Devaraj was. Devaraj had taken refuge with some friends and they were not aware of his whereabouts. They were let off by the police with a strict warning and told to bring Devaraj. After being released from the police station, they contacted CS John, GCIC coordinator in the area. He took them to Sagar, a town about 30 km away, and got them admitted into the government hospital for treatment. He also got an FIR registered against the police, and submitted a letter demanding protection for the men. The next day the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sagar, visited them at the hospital came and asked them to withdraw the case as it would be difficult for them to get protection from the same men against whom they had filed a complaint. The police are also demanding to know the whereabouts of Devaraj. But GCIC wants the police to withdraw the accusation that Devaraj is a terrorist and to let him continue his work peacefully as before.

Some locals in Kargil have now indicated that they are planning to create a disturbance if a church service is held in the village on Sunday. The DYSP is presently in the village and working on the issue.