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Bibles burnt and Christians beaten at prayer meeting in India

by Cara Bentley

The prayer meeting was held in the home of a Christian student, Siddappa and attended by Neethiraj from the India Evangelical Mission, a friend called Chandrakant and his sick 16 year old relative.

According to Christian freedom charity Christian Solidarity worldwide, soon after the prayer meeting began, intruders went upstairs and questioned the men about the purpose of their gathering.

The Christians were then manhandled and dragged down the stairs and taken to the middle of the street outside Siddappa's home.

Neethiraj's bag, which had Christian tracts, was emptied on the street and they gathered all the Bibles and hymn books from Siddapa's home.

Local sources say that Neethiraj was forced to set the items on fire with petrol, which the perpetrators had extracted from a nearby vehicle, despite pleas from the Christians not to set the Bibles on fire.

It is thought that the intruders were from the Hindu Munani (Hindu Front) - an organisation which defends the Hindu religion and also opposes Christian conversion - and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), which is the religious arm of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), a right-wing Hindu nationalist movement.

Nehemiah Christie, Director of Legislation & Regulations of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches in Tamil Nadu, said: "Any Christian gatherings are now at risk of being interrupted by Hindutva forces. It is worrying to see that such groups freely intrude homes, question one's belief and seize articles of worship, including Bibles,and desecrate them.

"The Hindutva ideology of intolerance and impunity is spreading in this state, inciting people to harass and attack religious minorities, who just want to be able to practice their religion or belief peacefully. Such culture is not healthy for the future generation of Indians who are having to witness these awful acts. The Indian government cannot allow this divisive ideology to tarnish India's identity as a historically peace loving nation. They must act now."

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