Thirty-seven groups belonging to all faiths have publicly condemned a pro-Hindu group's attack on Christian-run homes for poor children in Karnataka. They deplored the new trend among Hindu fundamentalists to "train their guns" on students, especially those from these poor homes, alleging proselytization. "There are more than 80,000 students studying in Christian schools in Mangalore. If every student was made a Christian by now India would have become a nation full of Christians", said Vincent Alva, a Catholic leader. "We may be Muslims or Christians but before that we are Indians,” said Muslim leader Ali Hasan, addressing nearly 4,000 people assembled on April 11 in front of the local district commissioner’s office in Mangalore. Dalit leader Krishnananda D said Christians have donated their houses to establish schools but now the fundamentalists are stopping them from even imparting knowledge. Since 2008 when the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party started ruling the southern state there have been at least 24 attacks on Christians and their institutions. The police registered a number of criminal cases against Christians when they protested the attacks, but did nothing to safeguard them. Since the beginning of April, many children from Christian-run shelters for poor returning home after exams have been stopped by Hindu activists and harassed. These included children from Ebenezer Mercy Hall, a charitable home run by a Pentecostal Christian group, the Ashraya home run by a Catholic leader, and the Stella Maris Orphanage run by Apostolic Carmel nuns. “The children were shocked and depressed when the fundamentalists threatened and questioned them. They even threatened the children with murder and removal of their kidneys”, said Sister Premalatha, one of the caretakers of Stella Maris Orphanage. “Whatever the provocation, we will not stop working for the poor children,” said Sister Agatha Mary, Superior General of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation. Mariamma Thomas, a Christian social activist, alleged that the police as well as child-welfare committees have joined hands with the fundamentalists in attacking children’s homes. Asha Nayak, president of South Kanara District Child Welfare Committee said: ‘We inspect the records, registers, official permissions and files of the poor children homes as to protect them and their rights. That is our official duty.” A memorandum for protection of the rights of minorities was sent to the Governor of the state. IB13946.1649
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