[b]Mission Complex Vandalized in Karnataka, India[/b]Hindu extremists wreak havoc on ministry center for poor children, homeless.
[i]by Nirmala Carvalho[/i]
[b]MUMBAI, India, July 21[/b] (Compass Direct News) Hindu extremists vandalized an indigenous church and ministry complex in Shivanapura district, Karnataka state, on Saturday night (July 15), rampaging through facilities and locking terrified residents in their dormitories.
Shortly before midnight, Hindu extremists entered the Shivanapura Marthoma Mission and bolted the doors of the residential quarters of the pastor and others residents. In the ensuing rampage, they threw stones at the facility and smashed nearly all window panes.
Rev. Alexander Tharakan, 34, his wife, Smita, his 2-year-old daughter, Ashray, and his 70-year-old-mother awoke to the sounds of the destruction and the jeers of the extremists. Their main door was latched from outside.
We did not see anyone, as the doors were bolted from outside, but it was terrifying, as we could hear the sound of breakage all around, Rev. Alexander told Compass. We have local security, but they too had retired for the night.
The pastor said four buildings were damaged.
My little girl is still frightened, especially at nights, he added.
An eyewitness who toured the mission after the attack told Compass that, given the extent of the damage in such a short span of time, there must be been at least a dozen attackers.
The prayer hall had stones strewn all over, window panes were smashed, and visible all over the mission was a trail of devastation, said the eyewitness, who requested anonymity.
Shivanapura is a rural district about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Bangalore, the capital of the southern, majority-Hindu state of Karnataka. The district derives its name from the Hindu god Lord Shiva.
[b]Seeking to Accuse Ministry[/b]
The mission, spread over two acres, has been working among the poor of Karnataka state for the past 30 years.
It conducts vocational courses for about 200 children and youth, all belonging to marginalized sectors of society. Poor children in the area also receive primary education classes at the complex.
The mission also provides medical care to the poor, as well as housing to some severely impoverished people.
Sunday worship is held at the mission, where a congregation of around 30 people assembles for prayer and worship.
Dr. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told Compass that the Marthoma Mission is revered among the poor and has been the target of the Hindu extremists.
This attack, under the cover of darkness, was a culmination of a series of intimidations and pressure tactics by the cadres of fundamentalists owing allegiance to the numerous right-wing groups in the area, including Om Shakti, Sajan said.
Sometime ago, Hindu extremists barged into the mission and, referring to missionaries colloquially as Father, shouted, Father, leave this place, go away.
The complexs social service ministry has been the subject of much suspicion by Hindu extremists.
Using strong-arm tactics, they have even been questioning people who have been given houses, whether converting to Christianity was a prerequisite for getting the house, Sajan said. They are trying to get evidence or proof of conversion due to enticement or allurement.
Sajan said he has been assured of assistance from the Karnataka Home Ministry, which was supposed to request the local civic head to investigate the case, but to date no arrests have been made.
[i]Compass Direct Flash News is distributed as available to raise awareness of Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Articles may be reprinted by active subscribers only[/i].
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