2008 Attacks On Christians in Southern Karnataka - Attacks

Attacks

Incidences of violence against Christians had been reported during the month prior to the main attacks. On 17 August 2008, demonstrators performed a dharna (hunger strike) outside the DHM church in Jayanagar, Davangere and again on 24 August at Nitya Jeeva Devalaya church, burning Christian literature in both events. No complaints or arrests were made in either of the events. Three days later, on 27 August, a Christian prayer hall and its pastor in Uchangidurga, Harpanahalli taluk were attacked, leading to eight arrests. Then on 7 September, a group of about 300 individuals attacked the Yesu Kripalaya Church in Bada, Davangere district, vandalising it and burning the Bibles. Ten people were arrested at the scene in Bada. The multiple premeditated attacks started on 14 September 2008, with some 20 churches attacked in Karnataka; of which 14 were attacked within one hour. These included Catholic and Protestant churches as well as temples belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the New Life Fellowship Trust. The attacks began when a group of some 15 youths on motorbikes from the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist organisation which aims to achieve the "reversing of the invasions by Muslim conquerors and British imperialism", arrived at the chapel of Adoration Monastery of the Sisters of St-Clare in Hampankatta around 10.15 am, shouting a pro-Bajrang Dal slogan. They entered the monastery and attacked it with lathis, desecrating the tabernacle and the Eucharist, the 15 feet (5 m) high golden coloured monstrance (regarded by the nuns as the most sacred object in the church), a crucifix, the oil lamps, the vases on the altar, and a few statues of saints. A couple praying in the chapel at the time were also beaten by the intruders. Two nuns were also reportedly injured. Around the same time, a group of 30 to 35 people on motorbikes wearing masks attacked the empty Church of South India building at Kodaikal, armed with iron pipes, cricket stumps and sticks, shouting pro-Bajrang Dal slogans. Aside from damage to the buildings, windows and religious iconography, furniture, Bibles, and other Christian literature were damaged in various churches. A gang of about 30 youths had made an attempt to ransack a prayer hall of the New Life Fellowship Trust, but their efforts were thwarted by the police.

Around 8.30 pm on 14 September, miscreants pelted stones at the chapel of Padua Pre-university College, a Christian college located at Nanthoor, badly damaging its windows. Around 9.30 pm, miscreants badly damaged a statue located in front of Carmelites' house in Katkere, near Koteshwar. The Church of St. Sebastian in Permannur was badly damaged, including its windows and furniture. The Holy Cross Church at Kulshekar and St. Joseph, The Worker Church at Vamanjoor were also damaged. Police reports confirmed that Our Lady's Grotto at Vijayamarie Technical Institute and properties at the Infant Jesus Higher Primary School and Mary Hill Convent were also damaged by the miscreants on the night of 14 September. K. A. Abraham, pastor of Divine Deliverance Prayer Centre at Neerugadde in Shiroor, claimed that over 25 miscreants had attacked his prayer hall, and they were reported to have smashed the window panes, ransacked equipment and set a motorcycle and car on fire. Later, in the early hours of 15 September, individuals broke into the St. George Church belonging to the Syro Malabar Catholic Rite of the Belthangady Diocese in Ujire, Dakshina Kannada district, 70 km from Mangalore and burned the Bible, the carpet, prayer books and desecrated holy icons. Miscreants also ransacked the St. Thomas Church in Gorigandi in Chikkamagaluru district. Seven or eight masked men arriving on scooters were reported to have desecrated the large statue of St. Antony at St. Ann’s Friary on Jail Road in Bejai, throwing flower pots to smash its glass covering. The official report into the attacks later claimed that the Bajrang Dal were the likely suspects for the attacks on churches in Chikkamagaluru district, including the Christian Believers’ Prayer Hall, Jagadeshwara Church in Mudigere and Carmel Mathe Devalaya in Kudremukh, and had also harassed people gathered at Kapitanio High School in Mangalore. Several people also reportedly invaded the house and prayer meeting of a neo-convert in Singatagere of Kadur taluk. Other areas affected by the attacks include Kalkanady, Falnir, Madyanthar, Makodu, Singatagere, Jayapura, Shaktinagar, Thokottu, Bantwal, Belthangady, Udupi, Kulur, Kundapura, Karkala, Koppa, Balehanoor and Moodbidri. Individuals were also targeted during the event; in Kulur, two men and two children were attacked by a Hindu mob near Gurupur Bridge while on their way to their hometown in a private car, and in Kalladka, the Souza Textile owner and his wife were attacked by unidentified people. Two separate stabbing incidents were also reported in Kalladka, and the two men affected were admitted to hospital with serious injuries.

On 16 September, a 100-year-old statue of Mary at the St. Mary’s Church in Kolar was damaged by vandals, St. George Church in Ernody was desecrated and attempted to be burned by vandals, and over 20 vandals desecrated the Rima Worship Centre at Adyar. On 18 September, vandals shattered the glass encasing of the Mother Mary statue of the Presentation Girls School in Dharwad and on 19 September, a gang of vandals on motorbikes pelted stones at the St. Xavier’s Church in Padu Kody in Mangalore taluk and destroyed the idols. On 21 September, a further four attacks were reported, including Brethren Christa Aaradhanalaya prayer hall near Nellihudikeri in Kodagu district, the Believers’ Church in Yedapadavu, Mangalore taluk, and two churches in Bangalore; St. James Church in Mariyannapalya near Hebbal and Lumbini Gardens, which had two gold plated crowns and cash from the offering box stolen and the main sacrament vandalised; and the Holy Church in the Name of Jesus at Rajarajeshwarinagar had the casing around the Infant Jesus smashed and the statue damaged. In Banaswadi, a group were reported to have pelted stones at a church and fled. A Catholic school was also attacked in Kasaragod district in Kerala. Between 15 September and 10 October, Hindu nationalists directed a wave of attacks targetting Christian communities in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, New Delhi, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, and Muslim communities in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

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