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3 Churches Burned in Tamil Nadu
Monday, July 23, 2018, 22:54 (IST)
Three church buildings were set ablaze in Tamil Nadu in six weeks, sources said.
In the most recent attack, the Kingdom of God church in Seekanankuppam, Kanchipuram District, was burned to ashes on June 11 after Christians refused to donate to an annual Hindu festival.
Pr Arul Ruben, 37-year-old, was leading Bible study in Paramankeni, a village two and a half miles away, when he received a call about the fire.
"I received the call around 8 p.m., immediately asked the local pastor in Paramankeni to continue the service and rushed to Seekanankuppam," said Ruben.
"In 20 minutes I was able to reach it, but by that time, nothing was left – the fire had spread all over," he added.
Losses were estimated at approximately 100,000 rupees, he said.
He reported the attack at the Koovathur police station.
Each year, Hindus in nearby villages collect donations from Christians for the annual Hindu festival held each May. Last year, 25 Christian families attending the church contributed to the festival, but none contributed this year, said Ruben.
"[Last year] they humiliated the Christians for their non-participation and issued threats that the church would be destroyed if any Christian refused to contribute to the Hindu temple for the annual celebration of their deity," he said.
"Even this year, they visited the Christian families and asked them to donate for the celebration, but nobody contributed," he added.
Also, a Hindu cemetery is located about 300 meters away. The Hindu residents from nearby villages demanded that the church be closed down so a short-cut way can be paved for Hindus taking their deceased for cremation, said Pr Benjamin, another leader of the church.
The Bible Presbyterian Church building in Puducherry, Karaikal District, was in flames on May 25. Passer-by alerted neighbors and Pr David Santosham, the head of the church.
"It has been nearly two months, and police could not find the culprits," Santosham told Morning Star News.
Previously, on May 5, Advent Christian Church building in Thiruvannamalai was set on fire by miscreants who ran away when neighbors spotted them, Pr Govrathnam Anbarasan told MSN.
That week, the church conducted a Vacation Bible School program for children, which was opposed by the local Hindu fundamentalists.
When the fundamentalists learned that the church continued the program despite opposition, they set fire to the church's coconut-leaf roof.