Aligarh (Agenzia Fides) – Following protests and reports to the police, 11 militants belonging to different violent Hindu extremist groups were arrested in Uttar Pradesh for occupying and desecrating a Christian church and turning it into a temple. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) told Fides that the militants were members of various extremist Hindu groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Fides learned that the church, which belongs to a community of Seventh Day Adventists is in Asroi, near Aligarh, in Uttar Pradesh (see Fides 29/8/2014). Reportedly the attackers held purification rites in the church with fire, removed crosses, destroyed other sacred objects, replacing them with an image of the Hindu deity Shiva. The place of worship has now been returned to the Christian community and will be kept closed for a period of time.
The EFI strongly condemned such deplorable violation of religious freedom urging the Federal Government to stop what seems to be a plan by Hindu extremists to polarise Indian society on the basis of religion, terrorising minority communities. Recently a wave of anti-Christian violence raged through Uttar Pradesh with attacks to persons and church buildings. “We demand strong and exemplary action to bring the criminals to justice and to restore security and confidence among minority groups”, says EFI. For the organization, “this conversion to Hinduism would appear to be part of a broader strategy of religious conspiracy against minorities”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/8/2014)