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ICC Note

“Twice the house church was vandalized and the Bibles and hymn books taken outside and burned, but in spite of repeated police complaints, no arrests have ever been made.”

By Sajan George

Friday September 21, 2007 India (Compass Direct News) – Christians will hold a major rally in Karnataka’s capital, Bangalore, tomorrow to protest a growing number of Hindu extremists attacks in the state and planned assaults on church meetings in Mysore district and other areas.

“The Global Council of Indian Christians [GCIC] is in possession of concrete evidence of a conspiracy of the Hindu extremists allegedly belonging to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] and the Bajrang Dal, who plan to launch a serial attack against Christians in HD Kotte and different parts of Mysore,” organization president Dr. Sajan K. George told Compass.

He said that pastor Yeravasan Kalla Suresh, 39, of Ebenezer Full Gospel Church in HD Kotte, is in “grave” danger. The pastor told Compass that on four occasions since he planted a house church in HD Kotte in 1995, Hindu extremists from the RSS and Bajrang Dal have stormed worship services and slapped, kicked and punched him.

“On another occasion, the extremists spat on my face and ripped the shirt off my back,” Suresh said. “Twice the house church was vandalized and the Bibles and hymn books taken outside and burned, but in spite of repeated police complaints, no arrests have ever been made.”

Two Bangalore-based extremists identified only as Muniyappa and Gopal have been holding youth meetings in different parts of Mysore , George said, indoctrinating young people in hateful propaganda to turn them loose against area Christians.

“The anti-Christian attacks are alarmingly increasing day by day,” George said. “There have been 70 reported cases of attacks against Christians in the last 18 months.”

Saturday’s rally is intended to raise public awareness of injustices against Christians and urge the government to allow them to practice and proclaim their faith as guaranteed in the Indian Constitution, he added.

“In the wake of these incidents, the GCIC and Bangalore Chraista Ranga, an organization of Christians of various denominations, will hold a major public rally on September 22 at 10 a.m at the Gandhi statue, Mahatma Gandhi Road, in Bangalore , Karnataka, to protest against the alarming increase of persecution of Christians in Karnataka,” George said. “The GCIC will also submit a memorandum to the governor urging the government to protect the religious rights of the Christians and other religious minorities.”

Last month, flyers printed in the Kannada language circulated in the Challakere area by the Bajrang Dal and the extremist Hindu Jagrutika Samiti of Chitradurga district, Karnataka, called upon “the followers of the foreigners’ religion” to either leave Challakere or “take refuge” in Hindu religion, according to an August 18 statement from GCIC.

“They must be put to death,” the flyers stated. “Friends and brothers of Challakere, teach such cheats and converters a fitting lesson.”

It urged people to “show their prowess” and “masculinity” by joining their fight against “traitors” and “conversion dons” in the district. Among the 10 “crimes” Christians commit, according to the flyers, were: “Helping the poor and converting them,” “educating the orphans and cheating them and their families and converting them,” “getting girls married into good families and converting them,” “organizing free medical camps and converting the patients,” “organizing religious meetings and converting the attendees,” “distributing Christian books or pamphlets to those who approach them for help,” and “doing good to all who oppose them and turn their hearts towards Christ.”

The flyers charged that “all these are his cunning ways. This is Christ’s teaching.”

George said there was a political agenda behind Hindu extremist attacks. In Karnataka, the Janata Dal-Secular party forms a coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with each one alternating as head of government for 18 months.

BJP is due to take over as head of government on October 3, as per the power-sharing agreement, but there is a fear of an election being called before its term ends.

Hence, George said, given the uncertainties within the coalition, the BJP – political wing of the RSS – is bracing to face earlier-than-planned state assembly elections by stirring up Hindu nationalist sentiment.

The ideology of Hindutva, espoused by the BJP and the RSS, encompasses a vision of India as a Hindu nation.

“Some of the temple heads in Karnataka are strong supporters of RSS, and there are political compulsions to consolidate Hindu votes on the vortex of alleged conversion and present the BJP as a savior of Hinduism to the electorates,” George said.