Wednesday, November 05, 2008

India arrests after church attacked

Three members of a right-wing Hindu group have been arrested after an attack on a church in northern India where Christian literature was being distributed, a police official said.

More than 50 activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or the World Hindu Council, attacked the church in Choela Buttuwala village in Uttarakhand, Dinesh Chandra, police said.

The church's pastor and two colleagues had been distributing religious literature at the time.

"The VHP activists beat up all three alleging they were trying to convert local residents," Chandra said.

The three men were charged with vandalism, he said.

The latest violence comes after weeks of bloody anti-Christian rioting that broke out in the eastern state of Orissa in late August. At least 38 people were killed, as many as 30,000 left homeless, and dozens of churches destroyed.

The riots followed the killing of a Hindu religious leader. Police blamed Maoist rebels, but conservative Hindu groups accused Christians of responsibility for the death.

The anti-Christian violence also touched other parts of India, with churches vandalised and Christians attacked in the high-tech hub of Bangalore, the city of Mangalore and in the coastal state of Kerala.

About 2.5% of India's 1.1 billion people are Christians, while more than 80% are Hindu. India is officially a secular nation.