Hunsur Christian Persecution. A Kandhamal in the making in Karnataka?

July 5, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

PersecutionKarnataka, June 30, 2013:  Hunsur, a small town on the way to Mercara from Mysore, the headquarters of Hunsur Taluk in Mysore District of Karnataka, has been witnessing a spate of protest rallies during the last few weeks. The rallies were organized by the Hindu fundamentalist outfits and the persecuted Christians on allegations and counter allegations of atrocities and alleged forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The first rally was on the 15th of May and the second was on the 6th of June. A large number of people drawn from different parts of the Mysore District as well as the neighbouring districts also supposed to have participated in the two rallies. Apart from the rallies, press conferences, a number of group level meetings were also supposed to have been held in different places to get the people worked up against each other. There is a genuine fear among some Christians that people with vested interests would stop at nothing and that there is every likelihood of planned attacks on the lines that took place in 2008 in Kandhamal, Orissa, Mangalore and other parts in Karnataka, if the government fails to take necessary measures in the matter.

First Pakshirajapura village, situated about 8 kms to the north of Hunsur, in which about 800 Hakki Pikki Adivasi people live, is the epicenter of the main trouble. The Hakki Pikki people belong to one of the most backward nomadic tribes in the state and most of the time they keep roaming around from place to place collecting and selling forest products in different parts of the district. They usually live in tents and move from village to village. In Pakshirajapura they are also known to sacrifice animals like the buffaloes and drink their blood while the half dead animals still keep wriggling on the floor. They are also being forced by the self-appointed leaders in the village to put around their necks, the intestines of dead buffaloes and participate in their ritual dances. These horrible rituals are believed to be followed to this very day on special occasions of worship of their deities.

However, some among them, who, after being exposed to the teachings of Christ in the course of their gypsy like life, have also accepted Christ. About 200 among the 800 people in Pakshirajapura today are practicing Christians, having embraced Christianity during the last two decades. They attend the End Time Gospel Harvesters India church at Hunsur for their Sunday worship, where Pastor Steven Suresh is in charge of the church. Christianity seems to have brought about great changes in their lives. They have given up their old drinking habits, gambling, fighting and even stealing and robbing in the neighbourhood. They are no more what they used to be, anti-social elements which they were almost throughout their lives, and today they are trustworthy and they regularly go to work and spend their earnings for the good of their families. There is peace in their families and their women folk are very proud of them. Others in the village observing these changes among the converted villagers are also being gradually attracted to Christ’s teaching and are becoming Christians of their own accord. This, in a way, is upsetting the well-laid plans of exploiters who have been taking advantage of these ignorant and innocent tribal people and ruthlessly exploiting them generations after generations as their servants and even as their bonded labour. Hence they join hands with the Hindu radical outfits like the Bajrang Dal, the RSS and its political wing, the BJP.

The members of the Sangh Parivar in the village and the taluk could call the shots at all levels of Government and get their wishes fulfilled whether right or wrong, as long as the BJP had its Government in Karnataka. But under the changed circumstances where the Congress party with its secular credentials has succeeded in forming the government in the state, the Sangh Parivarists, apprehensive of wielding their former clout of unbridled power, are determined to use all possible ways and means to keep up their waning popularity at any cost. Their usual target has always been the peace-loving and harmless members of the Christian community. They seem to target these helpless people once again to make news and also in the bargain gain the sympathy of the innocent Hindus by cunningly painting a diabolic picture of Christians and their alleged forcible conversions of Hindus to Christianity. This exercise also seems to be a preparation for the next parliament election in the country. This is the fear among the members of the Christian community in Hunsur today where they feel that there is every likelihood of the fundamentalist elements among the Hindus cunningly provoking the Hindus for a mass attack against Christians, more so against the Hakki Pikki people who have become Christians in First Pakshirajapura village. Sadly though, this can be a repetition of 2008 attacks in Kandhamal and Mangalore, attacks against Christians, their places of worship, their houses, their properties and also their means of livelihood.

The rally to provoke Hindus against Christians was organized by the Sangh Parivarists on Wednesday, 15th May 2013, a well-attended protest rally against alleged forcible conversion of the tribals at Pakshirajapur to Christianity and demanding the arrest of Pastor Steven Suresh, and 11 other believers hailing from Pakshirajpura. The rally was led by Doddahanumegowda Sathyanarayana, President of the Farmers Front and a number of other popular Sangh Parivarists and political leaders of Hunsur, Mysore and other neighbouring districts. The whole thing seems to have done after a lot of planning and preparation. As a prelude to the rally they also concocted a story of forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity and lodged a complaint at the Hunsur Rural Police Station against Pastor Steven Suresh of Hunsur and 11 Hakki Pikki Christians of First Pakshirajapura village demanding for their immediate arrest and imprisonment.

The crime of forcible conversion as per the FIR filed at the local court was supposedly committed on the evening of 13th May, 2013 and the complaint was lodged at the Hunsur police station on the 14th of May and the FIR was filed at the Additional Civil Judge & JMFC Court, Hunsur, on 15th May 2013 morning. The whole thing looks like a clear-cut case of an attempt at applying pressure tactics at all levels of government – the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, to brow-beat the people concerned and somehow get the innocent Christians punished. The fourth estate, the media was also systematically kept fed of the concocted story. The resultant effect on the 12 innocent Christians was terrible as they were charge-sheeted under sections 295-A of and 114 r/w Section 149 of IPC. They had to pass through harrowing experiences all the time hiding somewhere for no fault of theirs for more than three weeks. The Sessions Judge at Mysore before whom the 12 respondents submitted their application for an anticipatory bail which at last was granted on the 11th of June 2013, made the following observation while granting them bail: “The learned Public Prosecutor in spite of availing sufficient opportunity has failed to file statement of objections.” “In the FIR, time and date of the alleged offence is not at all mentioned. To fulfil the ingredients of Section 295-A of IPC, complainant has implicated petitioner in Crl. Mis. No. 732/2013 is permanent resident of Hunsur Town, while petitioners in Crl. Mis. No. 733/2013, are permanent residents of Pakshirajapura in Hunsur Taluk.”

The complaint also included some terrible and unimaginable statements against Christians, in addition to their alleged forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity, of desecrating the photographs of Hindu gods and goddesses by not only throwing them on the road but also urinating and passing the stools on them in addition to using very derogatory and highly insulting language against the Hindu gods and goddesses, which act no human being in proper senses, would ever commit, however angry or revengeful he may become, much less the simple Hakki Pikki people whose life has undergone a complete change for the better after their embracing Christianity. Incidentally, this is not the case of a stray case against the Christians in that village. Filing cases against Christians, harassing them and threatening them with dire consequences is a very regular feature, and it has been going on for years now.

The very tragic and also the pathetic outcome of all this is that these two hundred Christians of Pakshirajapura are being systematically ostracized by their own people in the Hindu fold as outcastes in the village, abetted and encouraged by the Sangh Parivar Hindu fundamentalists. Their Anganawadi School has been converted into a temple and the present School is being run in a toilet. They are not allowed to draw water from the common wells and none of the facilities for which they are entitled under the BPL schemes are allowed to reach them. Also all the government facilities for which all the STs, whether Hindus or Christians, are entitled to receive are not made available to them by the concerned people with an argument that they are not entitled for any of those benefits since they have converted themselves to Christianity.

The unkindest cut of all is that these goons with their high-handed behaviour blocking these Tribal Christians even from collecting their rations from the ration shops as it is quite evident from their unused ration cards during the last three years.Unfortunately, some of the concerned government officials influenced as they are by the Hindutva ideologues, also seem to be party to numberless anti-Christian activities and the inhuman acts of denial of basic needs to these last and the least in the society, just because they have embraced Christianity. A situation like this cannot continue indefinitely for an unlimited period of time, and one day the whole thing can burst like a bubble. This is the apprehension of many sober-thinking people in the state today. It is this which the administration concerned should look into and take timely and necessary measures to rectify the situation before it is too late.


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