According to reports, 15 Christians in India’s Karnataka State were arrested by local police to “calm tempers” of Hindu radicals that had surrounded the church holding a New Year’s prayer service. In states were anti-forced conversion laws are on the books, Hindu radicals often use them to harass and persecute Christians leaders. In many cases, radicals falsely charge these pastors of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity leading to arrests and lengthy court processes. Hindu nationalists have called for a nation-wide anti-forced conversion law to be passed by the government which many Christian fear would lead to even more persecution and abuse.
1/4/2016 India (Asia News) – The Christian minority “is vulnerable and subjected to harassment and persecution by both extremist as well as authorities, who are responsible for protecting citizens. Clearly, Christians are considered second-class citizens in secular India”, says Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
George was commenting to Asia News on the umpteenth arrest of 15 Christians for alleged forced conversions in the Indian state of Karnataka. The incident happened on the eve of the New Year in the parish of Bannur Jodukatte Puttur, in the southern district of Kannada. The police interrupted the religious function of the Believers Church (a congregation of evangelical Protestants) justifying the action as “protection” from the dozens of Hindu radicals who had surrounded the Church.
On the evening of 31 December 2015, the Protestant Church of Bannur Jodukatte organized a prayer to usher in the New Year. More than 15 people attended the celebration, mostly migrant workers from Perne, Salmara, Bannur and Badagannur (various locations of Karnataka).
The function attracted the attention of members of two Hindu extremist ultranationalist groups, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The radicals tried to stop the ceremony by raiding the church, but were blocked by locked doors. Police intervened to “calm tempers” and took faithful from within the church to the nearest police station, they were released after a few hours.
The next day the religious leaders were called to testify and ensure that there has been no attempt to proselytize. Police handed them rules to be observed in the future, including the obligation to alert the authorities ahead of all prayer services and celebrations.