TN: Christians still targeted by Hindu extremists
Tamil Nadu, June 26, 2012: The predominantly Christian village of Vanagiri Menvar was assalted; homes and places of worship burnt. The toll is one dead and over 15 injured. Most of the refugee population is still in the woods surrounding the village. This is the fifth attack since 2012.
One dead, over 15 injured, houses looted and burned: this is the toll of the attack made by a group of Hindu extremists against the Christian Protestant community of Vanagiri Menavar, in Nagapattinam district (Tamil Nadu). The assault occurred on June 23 and is the fifth since the start of 2012. 30 Christian and 10 Hindu families live in the town. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) denounces an increase in violence against the Christians of Tamil Nadu. Three of the five attacks occurred in April alone.
The tensions erupted on June 21 when a mob of Hindu extremists from the Bharathia Janatha Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) went to Vanagiri Menavar and ordered the Hindu population to boycott the Christians, impeding them from praying and going to Mass. The extremists had already visited the village in May with the same demands. To avoid clashes, the local authorities on June 23 organized a meeting of reconciliation between the two communities. The meeting also involved Thiru KA Jayapal, Minister of Fisheries, who however failed to convince the extremists to leave the village. In the evening, the Hindus attacked Christian homes with swords and sticks, burnt and plundered four buildings, forcing the population to flee. 15 people were injured in the clash, including two in critical condition. After the assault, the remaining families in the village contacted the police station of Poompuhar, which, however, refused to cooperate, forcing Christians to go to the authorities of the district of Nagapattinam. These authorities allowed them to file a complaint, but did not initiate an investigation, leaving the authors of the act unpunished.
On June 24, Mahalingam, one of the wounded Christians, was found dead in the hospital in unclear circumstances. According to his son Rajendran, who was also hospitalized, the man was in bed and in stable conditions, and would have been killed by extremists. The news triggered panic and the few families still living in Vanagiri Menavar fled and still today are camped out a few kilometers from the village.
In 2012, Hindu extremists have intensified their attacks against the Christian minority in Tamil Nadu. On April 11 in the city of Emapur in Villupuram district, a group of radicals beat up a Protestant pastor. On April 21 in Paganeri (Shivagangai), a crowd of 100 activists of the BJP attacked 15 Christians, beating them senseless and seizing their Bibles and other missionary materials. The most recent incident occurred on April 30 in the village of Banglawmedu. After a complaint by some extremists, the local police raided a Protestant church, accusing V. Neethirajan, the minister responsible for the community, of proselytism. The man was holding a three-day Bible course for a few village children, including some of the Hindu religion. To intimidate him, the agents and extremists devastated the classroom and forced the students to go out.