Monday, September 17, 2012
Attack on Bible Study leaves 1 dead in India: The Church of England Newspaper September 9, 2012 ,
Hindu nationalists attacked a Church of South India (CSI) prayer meeting last week in Tamil Nadu, leaving one man dead and a dozen injured.
On 26 August 2012 supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)attempted to break up a prayer service led by a CSI minister at the home of one of his parishioners in Sasthancode village in the Diocese of Kanyakumari. One church member is alleged to have invited a friend, a Hindu woman, to attend the Bible study, prompting protests from Hindu militants the pastor was seeking to convert Hindus to Christianity. Two Christians were hospitalized following the attack and the melee spread to the neighboring village of Nadaikavu where a Christian man, Edwin Raj (29), was allegedly beaten to death by Hindu extremists.
The Indian press reports the police have charged seven BJP party members in connection with the attack and are also seeking to question the Kanyakumari district BJP party chief over his role in the pogrom. A curfew and ban on public assembly was also imposed by police on 29 August to prevent further violence.
The BJP is alleged to have tested police resolve by staging a protest march the next day. Approximately 800 BJP cadres including the Tamil Nadu BJP party leader, Mr. Pon Radhakrishnan, were arrested on 30 August in Marthandam.
BJP national secretary Muralidhar Rao denounced the arrests saying the incident was a Christian provocation. “This entire act of falsely implicating the BJP leader and innocent people was part of the attempt by police to please local churches and Christians at the behest of certain political leaders,” he said in a statement to the press.
Mr. Rao said the invitation to a Hindu woman to attend a Bible study angered local Hindus. The local BJP party chief had been present in an attempt to defuse the tension, however the violence began when members of the Bible study attacked Hindu protestors.
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) told the Catholic news service, AsiaNews the situation in Kanyakumari was “rapidly deteriorating.”
“The central government and that of Tamil Nadu must do something. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and the basis of any healthy society. Such hostility and intolerance are a bad omen for India. If the whole population is not guaranteed freedom of worship, Christians could become second class citizens,” he said.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.