By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Indian police have closed several Pentecostal churches in southwestern India after protests from hard-line Hindu groups as part of a winder crackdown on devoted Christians in the area, a leading Christian rights activists confirmed Wednesday October 12.
Sajan. K. George, president of advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said churches have been closed in recent weeks in the districts of Hassan and Bangalore in Karnataka state.
“Hindu extremists with the complicity of the authorities continue their reign of terror against a defenseless Christian community,” he said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
Among those targeted on September 25 was the Church of God Full Gospel in Bangalore where the pastor was detained for not having permission to conduct worship services and allegedly practicing “forced conversions”, George explained.
Police “threatened” the pastor, identified only as Hulimavu, “in a clear fashion and ordered to close the church,” he added. The pastor’s whereabouts were not immediately clear Wednesday, October 12.
There was no immediate response from local police officials.
George added that elsewhere, in Hassan district, Hindu extremists “stormed” the End Times Full Harvest Pentecostal Church on September 25, beating Pastor John Frederick D’Souza. They also “forcefully” took Bibles from the congregation, “throwing them to the ground,” he said.
When police finally arrived, they closed the church on grounds of “no religious practice permits” and accusations of “forced conversions,” George added.
He said he knew of several “Pentecostal pastors who were systematically beaten and threatened, dragged into police stations with false accusations, arrested and locked up, often without even the option of bail.”
George explained that “the followers of these churches have no Sunday service.”
There have been attacks against churches in several parts of India, a predominantly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people.