News Briefs on Recent Incidents of Persecution
4/3/07 India (Compass Direct News) Madhya Pradesh About 30 Hindu extremists belonging to the Dharma Sena (Religious Army) attacked 250 Christians on April 1 (Palm Sunday) during final prayers at St. Paul s Church in Gokulpur, Jabalpur , in Madhya Pradesh. The church belongs to the Church of North India , according to the Global Council of Indian Christians. Seven Christians injured in the attack were hospitalized and released on April 2. Sources said Yogesh Agrawal and other officers of the Dharma Sena led the attackers, who reportedly arrived on motorbikes and were armed with sticks and swords, breaking windshields and headlights of parked vehicles. The extremists then beat some of the Christians; James Masih, presbyter in-charge of St. Paul s Church, suffered internal injuries. Sources said the extremists also struck with bats Masihs 5-year-old son, who was playing the Congo drum. The extremists cursed and insulted the congregation and the Christian faith, accusing them of fraudulently converting poor Hindus. Two Dharma Sena extremists were injured, though it was unclear whether from falling from their motorbikes or from the Christians defending themselves; police have registered charges against the two hospitalized members of the Dharma Sena.
Maharashtra Seven or eight Hindu extremists wielding iron rods beat Hemant Vashiani on March 31 at the 43-year-old pastors True Worship Ministry Church in Dassera Maidan in Ulhasnagar , Thane district, in Maharashtra , reported the Times of India. During a prayer service at about 9 p.m., the Hindu extremists barged into the assembly. These men walked up to the dais and slapped me, Pastor Vashiani told Compass. They shouted filthy abuses at the Christian faith. They smashed the tube lights, sound system and broke the keyboards. The men destroyed all the furniture in the church. Abraham Mathai, vice president of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, told Compass the men were Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh who falsely accused the pastor of forcible conversion. Pastor Vashiani, who suffered head injuries and a broken leg, was admitted to Shree Mahapotrai Hospital in Ulhasnagar . At press time no arrests had been made.
Madhya Pradesh Unidentified Hindu extremists attacked a Christian procession on April 1 (Palm Sunday) in Madhya Pradesh states Damoh district. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), two Christians received serious head injuries and were admitted to a mission hospital. A local source said the incident took place when the procession, which included a large number of Sunday school children from local churches, stopped at a shop for sugarcane juice. A few Hindu extremists arriving on motorcycles asked if participants were Christian. When one Christian refused to answer, the extremists took hold of whatever objects they could find at the shop and beat two Christians. Carrying arms, the extremists warned the Christians not to hold any more processions. The attackers fled the scene as local residents began gathering. The victims, whose names EFI kept anonymous for security reasons, were immediately rushed to the hospital.
Karnataka A group of Hindu extremists attacked the pastor of an independent church and had him arrested on charges of forced conversion on March 27 in the Moodbidri area of Karnataka states Dakshina Kannada district. The extremists trespassed into the house of Pastor Athishay Raj while he was conducting a prayer meeting there, Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of India Christians, told Compass. The assailants forced believers to leave the house before beating the pastor, who received internal injuries. Later, they lodged a police complaint against Raj, alleging that he was forcibly converting Hindus. The police promptly arrested Raj, who was later released on bail. When the pastor told the police to file his complaint against the attackers, they refused to do so, George said. Police also have asked Christians in the district to obtain permission to hold any Christian meetings in their homes. George said anti-Christian mobs were succeeding in pressuring police to arrest Christian workers without verifying allegations.
Karnataka Hindu extremists attacked Smurna Holy Church in Horamavu Agara village, Bangalore , in Karnataka state on March 7, and on March 10 they ambushed its pastor, Shyam Raj. At about 7 p.m., three men attacked Pastor Raj as he rode his motorbike about one kilometer from his house, beating him with wooden clubs. The assailants ran away after three women passing by cried out. The next day, Pastor Raj tried to file a First Information Report at the Hennur police station but police refused him; they only agreed to register the complaint after the intervention of the Global Council of Indian Christians. The morning of March 7, about 60 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) had barged into the church compound. They abused me in filthy language and threatened to kill me, simultaneously some of the mob began shouting Jai Shree Ram, Jai Hanuman [Hail Lord Ram, Hail Lord Hanuman], Pastor Raj told Compass. Some of the Hindu extremists threw stones, breaking the window panes of the church. The RSS extremists took Pastor Raj to the Hennur Police Station and accused him of forcible conversion, and on March 8 he was detained until evening. The police would not register any written complaint against the Hindu extremists, said Pastor Raj.
Himachal Pradesh Police in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh state have refused to register the complaint of a Christian worker whom Hindu extremists beat on February 25. The attackers, some of who were local residents, came with media personnel and took the photographs of the Christian worker, Raj Kumar, in his house in Joginder Nagar, Mandi, where he conducts Christian meetings, Sam Abraham, secretary of the state chapter of the All India Christian Council, told Compass. The extremists took Kumar to the Joginder Nagar police station to try to get police to press charges against him for forcibly converting Hindus, but after holding Kumar for interrogation the officers declined to press charges. When Kumar was released, however, the extremists attacked him near the police station, Abraham said. Kumar received several injuries, but police refused to accept his subsequent complaint. The Christian worker later gave a written complaint to the district collector [head of the district administration], but till today his complaint has not been registered and the attackers remain at large, Abraham said.