NEW DELHI, November 3 – Police in the southern state of Karnataka have arrested four more Christians on charges leveled by Hindu extremists.
Police in Udupi district on October 27 arrested four Christian youths, including three girls, for forcibly converting Hindus.
According to Dajiworld News Network, the Christians, identified only as Robin, Karen, Asha and Flavin, are from the Mabukal area near Brahmavar.
Police made the arrests after Girish Kundapur, the leader of a Hindu extremist organization, filed a complaint with police alleging they were "visiting the houses of Hindus and misleading the people."
Kundapur also accused the Christians of forcibly converting people to Christianity. The youths refuted the allegation, saying they were not encouraging conversion but only preaching their beliefs.
"We have not forced anyone to get converted - we do not believe in forceful conversion," Dajiworld quoted one of the arrested as saying.
Police are investigating the conversion charges against the accused.
Udupi district has a strong presence of Hindu extremists. The September 2006 issue of a monthly journal, Communalism Combat, said that anti-Christian incidents had occurred in several places across the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts.
"At some places, huts belonging to Dalits have been destroyed, photographs of Christ have been burnt and Hindutva activists have attacked prayer meetings, all on the pretext of stopping forcible conversions," it stated.
Karnataka police had earlier, on October 14, arrested eight Christian workers at a home for the destitute in Thyagarathi village, near Sagar, on charges of wrongful confinement and abduction after 500 villagers stormed the facility following false television news reports. (See Compass Direct News, "Police in India Arrest Workers at Home for Destitute," October 17.)
After the arrest, the workers at the Lourd Matha Seva Ashram home for the destitute were remanded to judicial custody by the Shimoga district court for "unlawful assembly, wrongful confinement, abduction and cheating."
On August 4, 15 Hindu extremists of the Bajrang Dal entered a district jail in Mardala and attacked Chetraven Rajan, a Christian businessman who had been falsely accused of compelling his wife to commit suicide. Prison authorities made no attempt to protect Rajan, nor did they file a case against the attackers. (See Compass Direct News, "Hindu Extremists Attack Jailed Christian," August 14.)
Many Christians say anti-Christian attacks and arrests have increased in Karnataka since the government of the Janata Dal-Secular party, in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, took power from the Congress Party in February.
Most recently, Lambani tribal villagers in Karnataka's Chitradurga district prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping on Sunday (October 29), instead forcing them to bow down and worship Hindu deities. (See Compass Direct News, "Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India," November 1.)
Three of the 11 Christian families at the church in the remote Kurumaradikere village refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering that would indicate allegiance to the Hindu deities. The local council chief ordered the village to ostracize those families.
On September 3, extremists attacked a 60-year-old evangelist in Guttigar village in Subramanaya district, Varghese Thomas, and his wife. (See Compass Direct News, "Hindu Extremists Trap, Beat 60-Year-Old Evangelist," September 8.) On his way to a meeting, the couple saw the apparent victim of a motorcycle accident lying in the middle of the road, and Thomas left his car to assist the victim.
As soon as Thomas bent over the victim, however, the man threw red chili powder into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. A group of around 15 extremists hiding in the bushes nearby then jumped out and assaulted Thomas, accusing him of tricking people into coming to prayer meetings.
On August 20, about 10 extremists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh disrupted a Sunday service of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Kolar district. On August 15, a police inspector and a large crowd of Hindu extremists disrupted a prayer meeting in Ambedkar Beedhi, Malur town, in the same district. Inspector Shiva Kumar stormed the house of David Narayanaswamy, where the prayer meeting was going on, along with extremists.
They dragged guest speaker Rev. Peter Muniappa, Narayanaswamy and a few others outside and punched them in the face. The officers and Hindu extremists then took the Christians to the police station, where they severely beat Rev. Muniappa. (See Compass Direct News, "Extremist Attacks Against Christians Mount," August 28.)