ASIA/INDIA - Violence against Christians in Tamil Nadu

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 human rights   religious freedom   religious minorities   violence   hinduism   evangelization  


Chennai (Agenzia Fides) - Four people, including the local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are in custody in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, after the violence and vandalism committed in a Christian prayer hall on December 9th. As reported by the police, three people were injured in the violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists. As Fides learns it was an entirely gratuitous and unjustified attack, carried out during a pre-Christmas prayer meeting. The prayer hall is run by Pastor Vinod Kumar of the Evangelical Christian community, at the head of the "New Life Profetic Charitable Trust".
Nandkumar, a local BJP leader and three other militants burst into the hall asking the assembly to stop the liturgy.
The district administration of Coimbatore had previously ordered the closure of about 30 of these prayer halls in the area, following objections promoted by BJP militants, complaining of "noise and disturbance".
According to the police, despite the order of closure, Christians nevertheless organized a celebration that led to the aggression of the militants.
Local Christians say that the attack was planned by a group of extremists who gathered specifically to stop the Christian liturgy. In the attack, a Christian suffered a head injury and a woman suffered a fracture, while other faithful suffered minor injuries.
"We did not do anything wrong, we just wanted to celebrate Christmas and distribute some goods to the poor", said Pastor Karthik, who was present in the hall.
The Christian faithful ask for protection and call on the police to "take rigorous action against attackers". The police have not yet submitted an official complaint. The militants say that Christians were not allowed to organize any meeting.
The BJP, Indian political party, belongs to the right-wing Hindu nationalist and governs in India at a federal level (with Premier Narendra Modi) but also in 18 Indian states out of 29. It is supported by violent paramilitary organizations and contrary to religious minorities such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). (PA) (Agenzia Fides,12/12/2017)