EFI News Persecution Watch: Pastor, 5 believers arrested in Karnataka

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February 28, 2011

Acting on false complaints by Hindu nationalists, Karnataka police on Jan. 25 arrested Christians in Kanakagiri village, Koppal district of Karnataka.

Our correspondent reported that the incident took place when one unidentified woman, a seeker from a Hindu family went missing. Her family suspected and blamed the Christians for her disappearance and reported the matter to the local Hindu extremist leaders.

Subsequently, the extremists at about 4 p.m. called some members from Evangelical Church of India (ECI) including Pastor John Harris and Ravi Kumar. "I explained to them about our ministry and our innocence in the matter but suddenly they started to beaten, kicked and slapped us, verbally abusing us for our faith" reported Pastor Harris to EFI.

At about 8 p.m., the extremists forced the Christians to disclose the whereabouts of the missing woman or else they would set fire on them. The police arrived at the spot and took the Christians to the station for safety measure. Later at 1 a.m. midnight, about 100 extremists swelled up at the police station shouting anti-Christian slogans and pressured the police to arrest the Christians.

The situation went out of control and the district police force came together to protect the Christians. At 2:30 a.m., Pastor Harris and 5 believers were taken to Town police station. At this time, the extremists burned Pastor Harris' motorbike and one believer's home.

The next day, at about 6 p.m., the Christians were sent home from the police station. However, at about 2 a.m. midnight, a group of people approached the owners of some houses having Christian tenants, threatened and asked them not to give house for rent to Christians. Christians are forced to vacate their houses at midnight itself.

On 28 January, at 9 a.m., the Christians were summoned to the police station for an oral statement. "We went to the police station to give our statement only to realize that we have been arrested for forcible conversion based on the complaint lodged by the extremists." said Pastor Harris.

The Christians were released on bail at about 5:30 p.m. on the same day. The case is still in court.

It was reported that the missing woman was found and she gave an open statement before the Superintendent of Police that she left her house on her own free will and went to Bangalore. After her statement, the extremists immediately booked a false complaint against the Christians for 'forceful conversion' to avoid landing into trouble for their false accusation against the Christians of taking the woman away.

Speaking to EFI, Pastor Harris said, "We underwent bitter experience but we consider all it honor for the sake of Christ Jesus. We really experienced and saw the helping hand of our Almighty God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego"

The present situation of ECI church members in Kanakagiri, according to our correspondent :

Christian students are threatened, verbally abused and ostracized in schools and colleges.

  • The local Christians are verbally abused at the slightest chance and they are also being treated as criminals.
  • Permission to conduct any kind of worship services in Christian rented houses is not given. Since all Christians are staying in rented houses, they did not have any meetings for one month.
  • Because of the perpetual persecution faced by the church, one third families from ECI have left the church.
  • The extremists demanded that the Christians should not conduct any kind of religious activities, built any Christian churches or schools in the area and that Christians should not live together in the village.

Pray for Pastor Harris and the church members for strength and that God will provide for them a good place to worship.

An appeal to write to authorities

As concerned people, kindly write to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, appealing to them to safe guard the rights of the minority communities and to give protection to churches against attacks and to take immediate action against the perpetrators of violence.

Shri B. S. Yediyurappa
Chief Minister of Karnataka

(O) Tel: +91 080 22253414 ; 22253424
(O) Fax: +91 080 22281021 ; 22253660
E-mail: [email protected]

Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj   
Governor of Karnataka
Raj Bhavan Road,
Bangalore - 560 001

Tel: + 91 080 22254102 ; 22253555
Fax: +91 080 22258150

Email: [email protected]

Issued By:
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India

Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations