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Christian Worker Attacked in Himachal Pradesh , India

7/26/07 India (International Christian Concern) – Hindu fundamentalists, allegedly from extremist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), attacked a Christian worker on July 17 in the town of Kulla in the Himachal Pradesh state.

A local source, requesting anonymity, told ICC that Kamal Kanta from Christian organization Youth with a Mission (YWAM) was beaten up by at least four VHP supporters at about 8:30 p.m. on Monday in Kullu’s main market place Akhara Bazar in the presence of his wife and two children.

“Kanta, along with his family, was attending a prayer meeting in a believer’s house in Akhara Bazar when four unidentified people came to the house and asked him to come out. As he came out with them, they all began beating and abusing him, accusing him of conversions,” said the source.

Even as the attackers were beating Kanta, about 20 more people came and surrounded him lest he fled. The wife of Kanta, Poonam, also came out when he heard the noise.

The attackers ran away after beating Kanta, who received bruises and other visible injuries.

Kanta’s family and other Christians took him to the police station to lodge a complaint. The police promptly sent him for a medical examination.

The police accepted the complaint, but did not register it. “It was recorded in our diary; we did not register a first information report (FIR),” Constable Ved Ram told ICC on phone.

Ram also claimed that the attackers were local people, but “unidentifiable.” “Kanta’s wife says she can identify some of them, but no one has been identified yet,” he said.

Kanta has been working in Kullu for 11 years.

The source attributed the attack to an anti-Christian campaign by Hindu fundamentalists through the local edition of a Hindi language daily, Dainik Jagran. The daily has been carrying provocative stories maligning the local Christian community for the last two years.

ICC had earlier reported on Dainik Jagran publishing a series of reports with the headline, Isaiyon ka gorakh dhanda (Misdeeds of Christians), and carrying a picture that shows a trishul (trident, one of the signs of a Hindu god) piercing the cross and stains of blood.

Several reports have alleged that Christians eat beef and “forcibly” convert Hindus, and some stories have even identified Christian workers with their names.

It was seemingly the campaign by Hindu fundamentalists that compelled the ruling Congress Party government in Himachal Pradesh to pass an anti-conversion bill on December 30, 2006. Local Christians complain that this bill has intensified persecution in the state, as fundamentalists think even the Congress government is with them in their anti-Christian agenda. The bill was later approved by the state governor, but the rules have not been framed yet.

According to the government census of 2001, Christians comprise less than point-one percent of the total population.