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World News

Church leaders in India advised by police not to host Christmas services

by Kelly Valencia

Church leaders in India are being advised not to host Christmas services due to security concerns.

Police in India's Karnataka state have advised Christians not to gather in rented halls or private houses as officers cannot guarantee protection from militant Hindu nationalist groups.

Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at Open Doors UK and Ireland, told Premier these types of police warnings are becoming more and more common in the country.

“The police are not protecting or they're not pursuing people who have done the attacks and then people can attack with impunity. It's a common theme that's developing in parts of India,” Dr Landrum said.

Attacks on religious minorities, including Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, have significantly increased in the Karnataka state, especially since the ruling party proposed an anti-conversion law.

Earlier this month, members of a fundamentalist Hindu group, Sri Ram Sene, disrupted a prayer meeting in a hall in the city of Belagavi, Karnataka State, and locked them up until the police set them free.

The attackers accused the pastor of luring poor Hindus into the Christian faith.

Dr Landrum continued: “Anti-conversion laws are unjust and undermine India’s claim that it respects religious freedom. 

“These laws are already in place in nine Indian states, and Hindu nationalist groups have used them as a pretext to attack and accuse Christians of forcibly converting Hindus and Dalits. The attacks are fuelled by the spread of disinformation. 

“If Karnataka adopts the law, local Christians will immediately be affected by it and the squeeze will be even tighter.”

The law is expected to pass during the Winter Session of the Karnataka Assembly due to take place on 24th December.

When asked how the Church in the UK can support Christians in India, Dr Landrum said: “Please pray, there are Christian communities all over the world that are more vulnerable at Christmas time, and India is one of those places. So please do remember our brothers and sisters in your prayers for protection. Alongside praying please do take every opportunity to make our politicians and our media more familiar with what's happening in India.”

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