Conversions not government blamed for violence in India

By February 10, 2011

India (MNN) — Christians in India's southern state of Karnataka are preparing to file a court petition against a panel that blamed a series of anti-Christian attacks in 2008 on conversions from Hinduism.

In its Jan. 28 report on the violence, the Justice B.K. Somashekhara Commission absolved the state government–ruled by a Hindu nationalist party–of any responsibility in the violence. Defending the state government and recommending the enactment of an "anti-conversion law," the commission stated that an allegation of misuse of foreign funds for "mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of the society belonging to weaker sections … is true."

Dr. Sajan K. George of the Karnataka-based Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) called the report "a bundle of lies intended to mislead and confuse the people," and Dr. John Dayal, a member of the government's National Integration Council, said it "parroted" Hindu nationalists.

The more than 28 attacks in Karnataka in August through September 2008 were believed to be led by Hindu extremist groups, mainly the Bajrang Dal, close to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

The violence was seen as fallout of a deadly spate of anti-Christian attacks in eastern Orissa state's Kandhamal district, which killed about 100 people and burned thousands of houses and churches beginning in August 2008.

The Catholic Secular Forum released a statement criticizing the report for calling anti-Christian assaults a spontaneous reaction of Hindus "victimized" by conversion attempts, and for denying collusion of the administration.

George of the GCIC said the panel tried to "rewrite the whole story as if dictated by [its political] mentors as per their requirements and convenience."

It's unclear what this would mean for future outreach events for local Christians. Pray that this investigation won't invoke any more anger and attacks against Christians in the region.


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