ASIA/INDIA - Twenty pastors of the Baptist Church attacked by Hindu extremists

Friday, 7 June 2013

Hyderabad (Agenzia Fides) - Hindu extremists brutally attacked 20 Protestant Pastors of the Baptist Church in the district of Mahehwaram Mandal, territory of Hyderabad, the state capital of Andhra Pradesh in south-central India. According to what was reported to Fides by the "All India Christian Council", an ecumenical organization of Christian communities in India, on June 4 about 50 militants of the "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh" group (RSS, "Volunteer Hindu nationalist group") interrupted a spiritual retreat of the Baptist Pastors, insulting and beating them with sticks. During the violence, the militants accused the Pastors of "forced conversion." The Pastors were taken to hospital and filed a complaint to the police. In the coming days the Christian communities of the territory intend to organize a peaceful march to protest against the violence.
"Any type of violence must be condemned, but it must be said that incidents of this kind are not very frequent in Andhra Prdesh" explains to Fides, Fr. Amal Yeruva, a Catholic priest of Hyderabad. "The Hindu extremist groups, in fact, are not very strong in Aadhra Pradesh as in other Indian states such as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, partly because the political party that protects them, the BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) does not have many followers."
The priest explains to Fides: "It must be said that the Catholic Church, a community of more ancient tradition, has no problem in carrying out pastoral activities, but this cannot be said for the communities of Protestant Christian derivation. On our behalf, dialogue with the communities and with Hindu leaders is broad and fertile, and continues at all levels. The Catholic Church is highly respected in the state."
The diocese of Hyderabad has launched "initiatives and programs for the Year of Faith: seminars, spiritual retreats and workshops for priests, religious and lay people who help the community to strengthen their faith." According to a report sent to Fides Agency by the "Global Council of Indian Christians" (GCIC), in 2012 there were officially 135 attacks against Christians in India. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/06/2013)