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Church attacks linked to violence in Australia

Updated: January 26, 2010 09:26 AM GMT
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A Marian grotto damaged during the anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka
A Marian grotto damaged during the anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka
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NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- Three churches were attacked in Karnataka days after a radical Hindu group threatened violence if the Indian government failed to act against attacks on Indians in Australia. In the latest attack in Mysore, unidentified people destroyed a statue of the Blessed Mother in the grotto of Holy Family Church in Hinkel parish. Church people noticed the destruction on the morning of Jan. 25. Bishop Thomas Antony Vazhappilly of Mysore told UCA News Jan. 26 he did not believe it was an attempted burglary, as police claim. “It was a deliberate act” of Hindu radicals to create sectarian tension and offend the religious sentiments of the Christians in the parish of some 250 Christian families, the bishop said. The church was also attacked in 2002 and radicals beat up people, including women and children. “The culprits were arrested in that case, but they are on bail, and the case has dragged on for the past eight years,” Bishop Vazhappilly said.

Hard-line Hindu group suspected

Noting that the state witnessed two more attacks in the past few days, he said media reports link the incidents with the radical Hindu group Sri Rama Sene (army of Lord Rama) acting in retaliation for reported racial attacks on Indians, mostly students, in Australia. In one of two reported attacks in Karwar diocese, vandals smashed the windows of a grotto at St. Antony’s Church in Ternamakki village, near Bhatkal city, after Jan. 22 midnight, the bishop said. A report in “The Hindu” newspaper said Sri Rama Sene activists are suspected of being behind the attack. In the other incident, attackers tried to pull down the cross that stood a few meters away from Our Lady of Lourdes Church at Mundalli, also near Bhatkal, on Jan. 22. The Sri Rama Sene group had on Jan. 19 issued a statement saying, “Christians in India are part of a conspiracy to target Indian Hindus in Australia.” It also said if the Indian president failed to act to prevent the attacks on “Indian Hindus” in Australia in two days (Jan. 20-21), the group would “ensure that there is not a single church in Bhatkal.” Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, president of the Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops’ Council (KRCBC), condemned the attacks. He told media that he wants the state government of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to ensure Christians’ security. In September 2008, months after the BJP came to power, the state witnessed widespread attacks on Christian churches, institutions and ministers. IB08631.1586 January 26, 2010 43 EM-lines (412 words)

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