Mangalore (Karnataka): Schools and shops remained closed and vehicles kept off the roads in the city of Mangalore on Monday, to protest the Churches being burnt by suspected Bajrang Dal activists. This is the third Sunday in a row when the Christian community has been targeted in the BJP ruled state.
The police clashed with Christian protestors at a Church in Ullal in the outskirts of Mangalore. Police were forced to fire in the air, lathicharge and arrest several people.
The Catholic Bishop of Mangalore, Aloysius Paul D'Souza, urged the Christians to remain calm amidst persecution and violence and demanded the release of all Christians who have been arrested. He said, "This morning I sent people to different places where protests were happening and I have asked them to withdraw the protest. I have asked for peace."
John Dayal states "We are surprised that the Sangh Parivar, specially its militant units Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram are not being mentioned in the national Media and public discourse on terrorism at par with SIMI as groups out to destroy the unity and the secular fabric of India. In fact the Sangh Parivar and the SIMI form a dipole, each feeding on the other and threatening innocent citizens of democratic India for their ulterior political motives. Terror is their common weapon. While the SIMI targets citizens at large, the Sangh focuses on Christians and Muslims. The military precision of the timing of the attacks on Churches in Mangalore and other Karnataka districts in the violence on Sunday and Monday speaks of long range and meticulous planning, not surprising as the Sangh has a very large number of serving and retired police and administrative officers in its ranks."
Fifty people have been arrested in connection with attack on the Churches. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has ordered an enquiry into the attacks.
Dakshina Kannada District: Bishop Simon John of Believers Church informed Evangelical Fellowship of India that one of the Believers Churches in Puthur in Dakshina Kannada pastored by Suresh B. was attacked by a mob at around 12 O’clock on Sunday, September 14th 2008.
The attackers smashed the window panes, lights, chairs, literatures and musical instruments and destroyed several bicycles and bikes of the believers who had come to attend the service.
In another incident, Pastor Albert Madhavan’s Believer Church at BC Road near Mangalore, Dakshina Kannada District was set on fire by another mob in the wee hours of Monday, September 15th 2008.
In view of the existing threats, police security has been requested. Even then the miscreants have set the Church ablaze and severe damages have been caused to the building.
Shomoga District: Pastor Alexander Dmello and his Church members’ lives are in danger as they received threats from Hindu fundamentalists in Talguppa, Shomoga District. The miscreants have warned against conducting worship services in the Church.
Similar threats have been made to Pastor K.J. Thankappan ministrying in Sagar, Shimoga. "It is a matter of serious concern over the manner in which hardliners are targeting Christians and their institutions in Karnataka" said Bishop Simon John of Believers Church.
Kasargod (Kerala): A missionary school, which was also used as a temporary Church, was attacked in the Kasargod district in Kerala, the police said on Monday.
The incident follows attacks on Churches by suspected Bajrang Dal activists in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts in Karnataka, which neighbour Kasargod, the northernmost district of Kerala.
"The attack must have taken place Sunday night or early Monday morning," the Vicar of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Punnoor Antony said.
Ranchi (Jarkhand): Bishop Juria Bardhan of Believers Church, Ranchi reported to EFI that on, 14th September 2008, at around 1 PM, Pastor. Cyril Tamgaria and 18 of the believers from their Church were worshiping the Lord in one of their Church members Badhi Oraon house in the village Talatad, Thana Patratu, District Hazaribag, of the State of Jharkhand.
As soon as the worship service got over, the villagers surrounded the house of Badhi Oraon and started beating pastor and believers. Amidst continuous thrashing they were then taken to near by forest temple and were threatened to convert to Hinduism. Later on they were handed to police. Instead of taking any action against the wily miscreants the police kept them in their custody till 5:30pm in the evening.
EFI requests prayers for the Christians who are continuously targeted for their faith.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
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