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Church, Christian Center Attacked in Kerala , India

3/21/07 India , New Delhi (International Christian Concern) – Hindu fundamentalists have attacked a Christian center and a church in two separate incidents earlier this month in the southern Kerala, a state with a sizeable number of Christians.

Carmel Gospel Center

Unidentified Hindu fundamentalists vandalized the Carmel Gospel Center belonging to the Pentecostal Church on March 6 in Kooroppada village in Pampady area near Kottayam town, the Rev. Paul Ciniraj of Salem Voice Ministries told ICC.

The extremists, who came on motorcycles, threw stones and broke the glasses of the windows close to midnight, Ciniraj quoted Pastor Baby Paul of the CGC as saying.

“After a prayer meeting, I and my wife were having dinner in our dining room. Suddenly, we heard the sound of stoning coming from the room where our five-year-old son Barose and two-year-old daughter Basia were sleeping. We cried aloud and rushed to the room to protect them. When the attackers heard our voice, they stopped stoning and fled,” Paul said.

The attackers had also drawn Hindu symbols, such as “ Om ” and the Nazi “Swastika” on the walls opposite the compound of the Center.

The church authorities have given a written complaint to the Pampady police station.

Pentecostal Church in Thiruvanandapuram

In the second incident, a mob, allegedly comprising members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or National Volunteer Corps), vandalized a Pentecostal church on March 4 in the village of Shangumukam, in Thiruvanandapuram district of Kerala.

Albert Lael of the All India Christian Council (AICC) told ICC that the attackers also beat up believers who were in the church to attend Sunday worship. At least one Christian received injuries, but they were not serious.

The attack prevented the church from conducting the worship service.

Although the police had been informed about the attack, the church authorities were trying to reach an out-of-court compromise, Lael said.

An AICC report said that the local authorities blamed the attack partly on a faction within the Christian community in the area, though they did not deny the role of the RSS. “The Council has sent a delegation to sort out the alleged differences between the believers of the church and certain other sections in the Christian community,” it said.

According to the government figures, Christians comprise 19 percent of the 31.8-million population of Kerala. At the national level, only 2.3 percent of India ’s population is Christian.