Karnataka: Christians attacked by Hindu extremists, arrested by police

Karkala, India – A gang of Hindu extremists affiliated with the Bajrang Dal attacked a group of Christian women and children who were coming from a peace festival. The incident occurred last night around 11.30 in a village in the State of Karnataka. During the attack, the Hindu extremists called in police who instead of stopping the attackers arrested the women and children. The latter were kept in jail overnight and released only this morning at 8.30. Christian activists slammed this latest example of anti-Christian discrimination and violence, which represents further evidence of the progressive “talibanisation” of India.

The incident began at 11.30 pm in the village of Kawdoor, not far from the city of Karkala (Udupi District), in Karnataka. A group of Christian women and children were going home after attending the three-day “Festival of Peace 2010” organised by the Bharatiya Christa Okoota, a Christian movement, at a high school in the city of Udupi. About 3,000 people took part in the event.

About 20 people affiliated with the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a rightwing Hindu extremist political movement, took part in the punitive expedition led by three of the organisation’s top leaders, Suresh Shetty, Suresh Poojari and Ganesh Shetty.

The young Hindus attacked 16 Christian women and children who were on their way home after a joyful day spent at the festival. They beat them with sticks, molested them under the cover of darkness and using abusive and vulgar language mocked the women as women and Christian. They also claimed that the State’s home minister was their patron and that “no one can touch us”.

Around half past midnight, the Hindu extremists called in the police. When the agents arrived at the scene, instead of arresting the attackers, they took into custody the Christian women and children.

Police Inspector Ramachandra Naik and his men diligently followed the instructions of the Hindu extremists and brought the women and children to Karkala Police Station, where their humiliation and abuse continued all night long, until their release in the morning at 8.30.

Sources close to the local Christian community said that the women and the children were in a state of shock as a result of their traumatic experience, which is the 19th such event endured by Karnataka Christians in recent months.

In a public statement, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has strongly condemned “the attack and molestation of women and children”. The Council slammed the collusion between extremists and police, calling it an example of the progressive “talibanisation” of India. In their view, the country is increasingly becoming like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“In both cases,” the GCIC said, “religion has been politicised to infringe upon the rights of women and minorities.” Even if “they were trying to protect our culture,” what they did does not correspond to “our culture.”

This morning, the CGIC filed charges against a number of Hindu extremists, five of whom were arrested for their acts of violence against Christians.