The greatest violence against Christians is witnessed in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is no coincidence that the party in power is the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is backed by Hindu extremists. According to a representative of the Christian Legal Association, lawyer Nova Bethamia, Christians or their property are attacked on average three times a week in Karnatake. In recent weeks, there has been a significant increase in violence, including an attempt to cut the throat of a Protestant pastor while he was in hospital recovering from a previous attack.
|Christian Demonstration in India|
A number of Indian states are affected by inter-religious tensions and Hindu extremists always seem to be at the center. But Karnataka comes first in the national rankings for anti-Christian violence. According to the Indian Evangelical association, there were 49 such cases last year, 56 in 2010 and 48 in 2009. But the real problem, according to Christian lawyers, is that “No serious investigations are carried out into these cases and those responsible are never tracked down or called to account for their actions. And this makes them bolder and ready to expand their activity.”
It is usually, though not exclusively, Protestant Churches that come under attack for their missionary activities among the rural populations. For example, last 2 November, Hindu extremists forced four Christians from the Zion Prayer Hall, to undergo a “Hindu bath ritual” and threatened to kill the pastor. They ordered them to publicly renounce Christianity and to embrace Hinduism, otherwise they would ostracise them, making it so that they lost their government contributions as members of the Bhovi ethnic community. The Christians refused and so were made to go through the bathing ritual by force.
The police was informed about the incident but did nothing. Such attacks, including physical ones, happen frequently. The most serious case was that witnessed in the village of Kannur, near Kolar, where pastor Samuel Kim from the Jerusalem Prayer House, reported he had been beaten senseless by Hindu extremists who left him unconscious on the street. He was taken to hospital with broken ribs and wounds to the neck and head, then, in the early hours of the morning, his assailants returned and tried to strangle him, before going on to hold a razor to his throat. In the end, they fled, after some people heard the pastor’s screams and came to see what was going on. The police protected him for seven days after that but no one was arrested because the aggressors had gone into hiding. Police inspector, Davendra Prasad advised him to cease his activity to avoid “graver consequences.”
The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and conversion from one faith to another is legal. But Hindu nationalists claim that all those born in India are Hindus by default. This is despite the fact that many tribal populations have indigenous religions and there are millions of Christians living in Southern India, whose faith dates back to the time of the Apostles and to the preaching of St. Thomas.