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Karnataka: dangerous climate of impunity in anti-Christian violence

ICC Note: Christians stage protest march to call for more security from authorities in the wake of months of attacks against them.

2/28/07 India (AsiaNews) – Christians in Karnataka, southern India , have protested to call for more security from the authorities in the wake of episodes of violence targeting them. The protest took place on 26 February in Hubli, diocese of Belgaum , and was organized by the Dharwad District Minority Christian Welfare association.

The placards waved by demonstrators called for intervention against “fundamentalist forces” that have been attacking Christians in the district for months. A memorandum was submitted to Prime Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Mgr Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar and the Chancellor of Belgaum Diocese, told AsiaNews: “In November 2006, the front door of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church at Nirmal Nagar, Dharwad city, was burnt overnight. The authorities do not have any concrete evidence about the culprits; it may have been a prank or the work of some miscreants, however to date no one has been arrested.” Sajan George is president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, an influential advocacy group based in Bangalore . He emphasised the urgency of addressing the security of the Christian community in the Hubli-Dharwad as well as other parts of Karnataka.

“Anti-Christians violence is spiralling at a dizzy rate, it is cause of concern as the very life and properties of Christians are under constant threat,” George said. “In rural areas of the district, Christian pastors are regularly beaten up, prayer meetings are disrupted and quite often, their small churches or prayer halls are vandalised and demolished.” He continued: “This protest march was necessary to highlight the brazenness of fundamentalist forces.”

Late last year, several human rights groups urged the regional deputy commissioner of police, MS Srikar, to provide security for Christians following several attacks. But nothing was done. “These fundamentalists carry on their attacks with impunity,” added George.