Anti-Christian violence in Karnataka

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Destroyed property inside Adoration Monastery, Mangalore, after it was vandalized by activists belonging to the Bajrang Dal, during the September 2008 attacks on Christians in Mangalore

The Anti-Christian violence in Karnataka in 2008 was a wave of attacks directed against Christian churches and prayer halls in Karnataka by the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal around 2008 .[1][2] There was also a wave of church bombings in the early 2000s by the once banned Islamic organization called Deendar-E-Anjuman which alleged that Christianity was not an 'Indian' Religion.[3]

Background[edit]

The attacks started in response to forced conversions, land grabbing and distribution of inflammatory literature targeting Hindu gods by the New Life Church - a fringe Protestant group operating in the state. The Catholic churches while denying any association with the group have joined the Hindus in condemning the activities of the New Life Church. The denials of New Life Church however, has been seen as "unconvincing" so far[4] At the same time, the Bishop of Mangalore Diocese reiterated that the Catholic Church has never been involved in forced conversions.[4][5]

Satya Darshini[edit]

At the heart of the attacks were charges of the distribution of the Satya Darshini, a Kannada book containing inflammatory material denigrating Hindu gods and which irked Hindu groups. The book, originally published as Ruju Darshini in Telugu by the 'Karunamaya Ministries' more than a decade earlier had in fact been banned after it had sparked off communal riots in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in 1998. Rev. Paravasthu Suryanarayana, the pastor of the 'Karunamaya Ministries' is reported to be the author of the Telugu original. The book is said to have been translated by a certain Sriramreddy of Bangalore, and revised by Rev Samson S Malekar of Davangere. A G Prakash of Suvarta Sevadal, Bellary reportedly edited it.[citation needed]

The New Life Church however, flatly denies all allegations of publishing, printing or distributing the book.[6]

The violence[edit]

On 14 September 2008, about 20 churches were allegedly vandalized in Mangalore, Udupi, Chikkamagaluru, and in other districts of Karnataka. The Assailants had damaged Catholic Churches, Protestant churches and Kingdom Halls belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses groups. The violence soon spread to Kolar, Dakshina Kannada and minor damage was reported from the state border of Kasaragod in Kerala.[7][8] [9]

On 15 September, violence erupted in the aftermath of serial attacks on churches and missionary prayer halls in the coastal areas of Karnataka escalated as four persons were attacked and Christians resorted to violent protests in which more than 40 persons were injured.[10]

On 21 September, two more churches in Bangalore were attacked. Iron rods were used to break into a church in Mariyannana Palya. The eucharist was desecrated, and furniture damaged. The donation chest was broken, and Rs. 1,000 [$20] stolen. In all, the cost of the damage was Rs. 18,000 [$360]. The second attack took place in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in west Bangalore. The statue of Virgin Mary outside a church was damaged as some people pelted stones. .[11][12]

Bajrang Dal's involvement[edit]

Mahendra Kumar, the state convener for the Bajrang Dal group, claimed responsibility for the attacks.[13] He was arrested on 20 September, after the state government was sternly admonished by the Central Government.[13][14]

The Bajrang Dal group claims that Hindus are being illegally converted to Christianity in the area. They claim that the Christian missionaries are running a large scale conversion program with a long term plan to divide India on the basis of religion.[citation needed] The ban on catholic church in China is quoted as an example of the intentions of the church.[citation needed] However, the recent anti-Christian violence in Karnataka and Orissa have led to calls for a ban on Bajrang Dal.[15][16]

Government faces criticism[edit]

B.S. Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, said the attacks were provoked by conversions of Hindus to Christianity. He also alleged that a Protestant group had distributed literature which insulted Hindu gods. The Chief Minister however clarified that he was not defending the actions of those who attacked prayer halls and churches in Mangalore, Udupi and Chikmagalur on Sunday.[15] Later, the Christian leaders denied it and commented that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was inciting violence rather than working to calm the situation. On the other hand, the Central Government had strongly criticized and sent showcase notices to the state Government for not solving the issue effectively.[17]

According to National Commission for Minorities that the Karnataka government of serious lapses in handling the situation and they found directly responsible for allowing violence to spread, and said the police failed to solve the issue effectively as the violence continues. They also clarified that there were no reported complaints of forced conversion registered in the state.[18][19]

On 18 September, the Congress led Central Government issued an advisory under Article 355 of the constitution to the Orissa and Karnataka governments.[20] Directives issued under Article 355, if unheeded, become a prelude to invoking President's Rule.[21] The next day, the centre issued a separate and sterner advisory to Karnataka demanding urgent steps to restore peace.[22] However, the Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa blamed lapses on the part of the police for these attacks, and directed the home minister and DGP to act against jurisdictional police officers.[23]

A high-level official team headed by Union special secretary (internal security) M L Kumawat was rushed to Mangalore and other affected places in the state. Senior Congress Party leaders Veerappa Moily, Margaret Alva and Janardhana Poojary also visited the state.[24]

On 22 September, the Archbishop of Bangalore has spoken his reaction regarding the issue to the Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ UPA govt puts State on notice Deccan Herald - 19 September 2008
  2. ^ ‘Adoration Monastery attack was pre-planned’ Deccan Herald - 25 August 2010
  3. ^ "Church blasts culprits may be sentenced today - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.ibnlive.com/news/new-life-church-under-fire-from-hindus-and-catholics/73816-3.html
  5. ^ "We have no link with ‘New Life". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 16 September 2008. 
  6. ^ http://www.newlifevoice.org/currentissues.asp
  7. ^ http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=13221&size=A
  8. ^ "More church attacks in Karnataka". BBC News. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  9. ^ BJP Govt soft on Bajrang Dal, probes church The Indian Express - 20 September 2008
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ More Karnataka churches attacked BBC - 22 September 2008
  12. ^ Fresh attacks on churches The Statesman - 22 September 2008
  13. ^ a b "State will arrest Mahendra Kumar". The Times Of India. 19 September 2008. 
  14. ^ Attack on churches: Karnataka cops arrest Bajrang Dal convener The Times of India - 20 September 2008
  15. ^ a b More church attacks in Karnataka BBC - 17 September 2008
  16. ^ Gowda demands ban on Bajrang Dal, Srirama Sena The Hindu - 22 September 2008
  17. ^ India government warns state over anti-Christian attacks Daily Times - 20 September 2008
  18. ^ NCM blames Bajrang Dal for Karnataka, Orissa violence Press Trust of India - 21 September 2008
  19. ^ http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=broadcast&broadcastid=93531
  20. ^ http://etalaat.com/english/News/state-scan/2803.html
  21. ^ http://www.ejcl.org/81/art81-4.html#h1
  22. ^ "Centre gets tough with Orissa, tougher with Karnataka". The Times Of India. 20 September 2008. 
  23. ^ "CM blames cops". The Times Of India. 22 September 2008. 
  24. ^ "Ready to die for Christ, Bangalore Archbishop tells Yeddyurappa". The Times Of India. 23 September 2008. 
  25. ^ Archbishop slams Karnataka CM over church attacks The Times of India - 22 September 2008

External links[edit]