MUMBAI, India, November 7 (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists yesterday forced Christians in the remote village of Bevainahalli, in the southern state of Karnataka, to bow down before Hindu deities and applied the vermilion mark to their foreheads. It was the second such incident in Chitradurga district in a little over a week.
At about 5 p.m. on November 6, two Hindu priests accompanied by a group of 20 to 25 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, entered Chitradurga district’s Bevainahalli village and knocked on every home’s door.
Leaving Hindu residents untouched, the extremists shouted threats at those in Christian homes, ordering them from their houses to a site near the village temple. Christians who questioned why were slapped and ordered to start walking.
When the Christians were gathered together, one of the Hindu priests, or Swami, began speaking against Christianity and told them to “reconvert” to Hinduism.
The extremists then marched the Christians off to the village temple, forcing them to bow down before the Hindu gods and goddesses. As a mark of acceptance of the Hindu faith, the Hindu priests applied the kumkum or vermilion mark on the foreheads of the men and women and compelled them to eat the Hindu offering called prasad.
Police Inspector K.L. Krishna only watched as the Hindu extremists violated the Christians’ constitutional right to freedom of religion with this “initiation rite.”
“I ensured the safety of the Christians and personally made certain no violence took place,” Krishna told Compass.
The Rev. Samuel Jacob, a pastor of Harvest India who ministers in Bevainahalli, told Compass that this was the second time Hindu extremists had targeted Christians in the village.
“Last month, the Bajrang Dal held a huge meeting in this village, where the fundamentalists berated Christianity as western and alien to the Indian people and its rich culture,” Rev. Jacob said. “These right-wing fundamentalist also told the villagers that Christianity was corrupting the Hindu faith. Later, they had played a CD denouncing Christianity.”
Rev. Jacob said the poor and illiterate Christian villagers were terrified by the aggression and threats of the Hindu extremists.
Also in Chitradurga district on October 29, Lambini tribal villagers in Kurumaradikere prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping and forced them to worship Hindu deities (see Compass Direct News, “Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India,” November 1).
In that case, three of 11 Christian families at a church in the village refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering, and the local council chief ordered the community to ostracize them.