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Hindu fundamentalist attacks on India's Christians mount as Christmas approaches

Catholic World News - December 21, 2010

A week ahead of Christmas, half a dozen brutal attacks on Christian targets by Hindu fundamentalists has been reported from different parts of India.

On December 18, Hindu fundamentalists beat two dozen carolers, including young women, and took them to the police station in a Mumbai suburb, charging that by singing Christmas carols they had insulted Hindus. Two days earlier, Father Thomas Chirattavayalil, who heads a mission parish at a remote village in the central Madhya Pradesh, was attacked at midnight by masked men who left him seriously injured. On December 12, statues of the Virgin Mary, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene, were found decapitated and disfigured at a church in the Andra Pradesh state.

On December 20, laborers at a coffee plantation at in the neighboring Karnataka state were beaten when they stopped to pray together. They too were taken to the local police station; in their case the charge was that they had attempted to convert others by enticements. This was nearly a repetition of what has happened on December 5 at Shimoga, where members of the Evangelical Fellowship of India were dragged from their private prayer room by Hindu fundamentalists and dragged to a police station to be charged with forcing people to convert. Church officials and Christian activists were not surprised by the latest attacks on Christians in the Karnataka state, which is ruled by the Hindu-nationalist BJP, and has reported the highest number of attacks on Christians in India during recent years. But Church leaders are alarmed by the flurry of other attacks on Christians in previously peaceful areas. Some Christians see the pattern of these attacks, occurring just before Christmas, as particularly disturbing. “These attacks look sporadic and isolated. But there is a clear pattern and strategy behind it. Maybe this is their way of greeting us for Christmas,” said Joseph Dais, secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) of Mumbai. “Around Christmas and other major Christian festivities, we have noticed a sudden spurt in anti-Christian violence in recent years,” Dais told CWN. Further, he said that aim of this campaign is to instill fear in the Christians and please the (Hindu) fundamentalists at the same time.

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