India: Christians Arrested During Prayer Amidst Hindu Mob

Hindu Mob

Religious watchdog groups have condemned the arrest of 15 Christians, who were celebrating New Years with prayer at a parish in the Indian state of Karnataka, while a Hindu mob surrounded them earlier this month.

Sajan George, head of Global Council of Indian Christians, said, “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.”

Apparently, the incident took place at the Parish of Bannar Jodukatte Puttur on the eve of 2016, when police officials barged into the Protestant building and arrested as many as 15 Christians in an attempt to protect them from an angry mob of Hindu radicals that had assembled outside.

The Christian event attracted the attention of two radical ultra nationalist groups in India, namely Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal; who wanted to raid the church, vandalize the property and stop the ceremony before police officials arrived. Even though those arrested were released within a few hours after being taken to a nearby police station, police officials warned them against proselytizing and instructed them to inform all authorities before conducting another prayer service.

George condemned the intervention by police officials, noting that the Hindu radicals should have been arrested instead.

He said, “The police acted against people who were praying in a private place. The police should have only dispersed the mob that had gathered outside the church.”

International Christian Concern (ICC) observed that Hindu radicals frequently use anti forced conversion laws to target Christian leaders and accuse them of baseless crimes. It cited the cases of certain leaders, who have been arrested after being falsely accused of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity. The watchdog group warned that such laws are being popularized by Hindu nationalists across the nation and the trend could lead to increased violence among both religious groups.

ICC recently launched a petition, demanding local authorities from more than 50 villages in Bastar District in the Indian state of Chattisgarh to stop targeting Christians and accusing them of crimes that have little to no evidence of having taken place in the first place.

“Today, we are joining our voice with our Indian brothers and sisters in Christ to call on the Prime Minister of India to specifically address the banning of Christianity. We believe in a society, which touts religious tolerance and freedom. No one should be banned from practicing their faith freely. Sign our petition and let Christians in India know they are not alone in this fight,” the petition reads.

Photo Credits: The Daily Star

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