January 20, 2006
Hindu extremists attacked Christians in two incidents in the same district of Andhra Pradesh state on January 12 and 13, in one case dragging a pastor from a child’s birthday party and kicking him unconscious.
In all, seven Christians, including two pastors, sustained injuries.
In Nizamabad district at 11 a.m. on January 12, a mob of about 100 extremists attacked a group of Christians as they distributed pamphlets near a bus stand, said Bhaskar Ghosh, district secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC).
The mob beat Pastor M. Aaron of the Indian Pentecostal Church and a Bible student, Madhu Kumar, and burned the pamphlets.
Leading the extremists was Jaipal Reddy, a full-time worker of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarti Parishad (All India Students Council or ABVP), the student wing of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The mob comprised students belonging to the ABVP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP.
The distribution of Christian pamphlets was part of a convention at Nizamabad’s Polytechnic Grounds for 170 Bible students from the Bharat Bible College, in the capital city of Hyderabad.
Aaron told the police that his attackers tried to take him to an isolated place to burn him alive. He said they carried a can of gas that they intended to pour on him and set aflame. The police, however, arrived on time to rescue him.
Police promptly brought Aaron to a nearby hospital, where he was given first-aid. Aaron and Kumar received minor injuries.
Later in the day, about 3,000 Christians from throughout the district marched in protest. The procession, from the Church of South India at Kanteshwar to the office of the superintendent of police, demanded the prompt arrest of the attackers.
The One-Town police station had arrested 10 of the accused at press time. “We arrested four persons on January 13, followed by two on January 15 and four on January 17,” said Waheer Uddeen, sub-inspector of the police station.
The 10 suspects were charged with rioting, hurting religious sentiments, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.
The sub-inspector confirmed that the attack was led by ABVP worker Reddy. “The RSS and the ABVP were responsible for the attack,” he said.
In a separate incident, extremists belonging to the RSS attacked Christians as they attended a birthday party at Domakonda village in Nizamabad on January 13.
“The attack took place at 11:30 a.m. in the house of Srinivas Balraju, a Christian who was celebrating his daughter’s birthday with his other Christian friends,” said Sam Paul, secretary of public affairs of the AICC.
While Balraju and five guests – Pastor Nagani Swami David from Biswapur, Thuddam Anil, Vanka Raju, Raikala Dayakar and Ramagalla Ramesh – were praying for Balraju’s daughter, 10 RSS workers stormed the house. Holding the Christians by their collars, they dragged all of them outside the house and beat them.
Kadiri Mohan Reddy, an RSS supporter, allegedly led the group of extremists. They kicked David and the others in the chest and abdomen; David fell unconscious there. The other four also suffered stomach injuries.
When Balraju and his sister-in-law tried to stop the attackers, they also were roughed up.
After the attack, the extemists put David on their motorbike and took him to the Pochamma (Hindu goddess) temple and threw him there. Then they fled from the scene and went to the police station, where they alleged that they attacked David because he was tearing off pictures of Hindu gods.
Some local people saw David lying on the floor and took him to a hospital. The other victims also went to a hospital for first-aid.
Janaki Reddy, inspector at the Domakonda police station, said his unit arrested nine of the accused and charged them with house trespassing, voluntarily causing hurt, criminal intimidation, and hurting religious feelings.
Andhra Pradesh state is ruled by the Congress Party, with Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy, a Christian, as the chief minister. The BJP and the RSS accuse Reddy of giving a free hand to Christian missionaries in the state.
Two pastors, K. Daniel and K. Isaac Raju, were brutally killed near Hyderabad in May of last year (See Compass Direct, “Second Pastor Found Dead in Andhra Pradesh, India,” June 6, 2005).
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