EFI calls for immediate action to safeguard Christians in Karnataka

13 December 2021

The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has called on Karnataka state leaders to act immediately to safeguard the small Christian community in Karnataka before any “major untoward incident takes place”.

Christians, said EFI, have good reason to anticipate an outbreak of violence against them following a “vicious and malicious hate campaign”, which has resulted in an atmosphere of fear and apprehension within the Christian community.

The invasion by Hindutva nationalists of a church in Hubballi, Karnataka and the attack on its Pastor Somu Avaradhi, was one of 39 violent incidents recorded by the EFI fact-finding team

“It is equally obvious that those involved in carrying out this hate campaign and fear mongering enjoy protection and possibly support of elements in the political and law and order apparatus,” added EFI in a report published on 13 December following a fact-finding visit to the state.

The EFI team met more than 50 pastors and Christian leaders, including many who have experienced recent opposition and harassment, and recorded a list of 39 incidents of violence or threat against the Christian community since January 2021.

The list is not exhaustive, said EFI, as many incidents go unreported, either due to fear of retribution or a lack of co-operation from local police. It is noteworthy that incidents increased since October following the state government’s announcement of the tabling of an anti-conversion law.

This has “empowered non-state actors to target Christians who are a miniscule minority in the state (1.87%),” added EFI.

“The escalating situation seems to be getting out of hand and so far there is no effective response from higher political and police authorities to stem the hate campaign and threats, which are being carried out by persons and through social media.”

The government of Karnataka has said that it will introduce the anti-conversion law in the winter session of the state Legislative Assembly that began on 13 December.

Pastors in the Belagavi district of Karnataka have stopped holding weekend prayer meetings in rented halls or private homes in order to avoid confrontations with radical Hindutva extremists.

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