ASIA/INDIA - Religious violence increases in Uttar Pradesh

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lucknow (Agenzia Fides) – Violence based on religion and hatred disseminated by Hindu extremist groups are increasing in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. This is denounced to Fides Agency by the Commission on Religious Freedom of the "Evangelical Fellowship of India", condemning the recent incidents that have seen Christians as victims of violent acts of intolerance.
The Commission recalls the "cowardly attack" on the Church of the Nazarene in Sehkari Nagar, which occurred on July 16, 2014, stating that "it is the direct result of the rapid growth of religious radicalism in Uttar Pradesh". According to Protestant pastors and other members of the various local churches, the attack on the Church of the Nazarene is the work of a group of activists of the "Bajrang Dal", a formation of Hindu militants. The attackers were led by Hemant Singh, identified as the coordinator of the "Bajrang Dal" in the area. The group ransacked the church, beat the pastor, broke the cross and other furnishings of the church.
Fr. Paul, a victim of the attack, said that "the militants broke into the church suddenly and began to hit the faithful and destroy everything, profaning the altar, and then hoisted a saffron coloured flag (the color of the Hindu extremists, ed) on the door of the church. "Christians submitted a formal complaint and the police have arrested a few people, but the militants have staged protests demanding the release of those arrested.
Other violent incidents have occurred recently in Uttar Pradesh: July 7, 2014, a church in the village of Saraiya was attacked by Hindu extremists, and there were threats and other minor cases. The faithful in the State ask Akhilesh Yadav, Prime Minister of Uttar Pradesh, to take note of these attacks against the Christian community and to initiate urgent action to protect its citizens. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/07/2014)