Thursday, July 06, 2006

Church set ablaze in Madhya Pradesh

Church set ablaze in Madhya Pradesh

By Indo Asian News Service

Bhopal, July 4 (IANS) A church has been set ablaze in remote Harda district in Madhya Pradesh, say reports.

'On June 30, extremists carrying torches broke into the church and set fire to a table, where 150 Bibles and hymnbooks were kept,' a report quoted Jaidi Khan, the pastor of the church, as saying.

The miscreants were from a Hindu group, Dharam Sena (Religious Army), said the report.

However, superintendent of police K.D. Peshara told IANS that the Pentecostal Church had two rival groups and the attack was launched by one group on the other.

He also alleged that the culprits had burnt down the motorbike of the guard, and not the church building.

The Christian community in the state is facing increasing number of attacks by Hindu outfits, which allege missionaries are converting tribals forcibly and using allurement.

As many as six attacks were reported in June alone.

In Bhopal, Bajrang Dal leader Devendra Rawat had earlier disrupted the press conference of Indira Iyengar, member of the state minorities commission. The conference was to highlight the alleged gangrape rape of two Christian women in Khargone district on May 28. They were raped after their husbands refused to 'reconvert' to Hinduism.

'We are worried about the increasing number of attacks,' said Fr Anand Muttungal, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference of Madhya Pradesh.

'I fail to understand why law enforcement agencies are not acting against the perpetrators,' he added.

Governor Balram Jakhar is reported to have written six letters to the state government seeking investigation into the reports of violence. The state home department, however, has either given a clean chit to the attackers or denied that the incidents ever took place.

Madhya Pradesh is among the few states where anti-conversion law is in force.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service