Increasing attacks against pastors in Karnataka; local sources blame police inaction

Published 10 March 2020  |  
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More than 150 radical Hindu nationalists wearing t-shirts that said "Jai Sri Ram" broke into a worship service in Bennakoop village, in Karnataka's Gadag district and brutally assaulted the church pastor who was later hospitalized.

Pastor Manju Keralli was leading the service on March 1 when a group of radicals entered and assaulted the Christian congregation. They destroyed the church furniture and instrument, and started to beat the pastor.

"I fell to the ground after receiving several punches and kicks," pastor Keralli told International Christian Concern (ICC).

"Then, they dragged me out of the meeting hall, tied me to a tree outside, and further released blows and punches. They took me to two other places in the same village and tied me to an electrical pole and a pillar in the marketplace. All the time they continued their physical harassment for more than three hours," pastor Keralli explained.

Later, the police arrived and took the Christian leader to the police station.

"Even the police threatened me with foul language, saying that I don't have right to live in this country as I am practicing foreign faith."

The police charged pastor Keralli under IPC Section 295, the blasphemy law, and did not file any case against the radicals who attacked the Christians.

Pastor Keralli is unable to sit due to his back injury, and doctors are suspecting that there could be fracture on his spine. He has severe lower abdomen pain and difficulty in breathing.

In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks against pastors. According to a local source, there have been five attacks on pastors in Gadag district alone.

"Across the entire state, the number of incidents have grown sharply because of the complicity of the police and the free hand given to Hindu radicals. This will make it even more difficult for Christians in the state," the source who wished to remain anonymous told ICC.

At present, pastor Keralli is not in Gadag district and is seeking anticipatory bail for the false charges filed against him.

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