Church attacks on the rise


KOCHI: The attack by miscreants on Mor Gregorios Abdul Jaleel Church in North Paravoor on Wednesday should set alarm bells ringing in a state that claims impeccable secular credentials. Kerala has already found itself fourth in a list of states with the highest intolerance level. There were 10 attacks against Christian missionaries and churches last year in the state and that gave Kerala this dubious distinction. Karnataka leads the list with 45 incidents.

The list and a report in this regard were prepared by Bangalore-based Global Council of Indian Christians.

The report has listed 170 incidents across the country. Orissa (25) comes second in the list, followed by Madhya Pradesh (15). Tamil Nadu, Chhathisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have seen six incidents each.

In other parts of the country, the crimes cited included murder and maiming, but in Kerala they were more about manhandling, beatings, destruction of property and attacks on churches. Such incidents were reported from Idukki, Adoor, Kodungalloor and Wayanad. In most cases, evangelists were the targets.

On February 15, an Adoration nun was attacked in public by a man in Idukki for no apparent reason, the report says. In March, two pastors sustained serious injuries after being attacked by a group of people in Kodungalloor alleging that they were forcibly converting people.

Two incidents were reported, from Sultanbathery and Adoor, in April, and were followed by a series of attacks across the state. In Alappuzha, police was called in by a religious group complaining that three women evangelists from Pennsylvania in the US were engaged in religious conversion in the tsunami-hit Thrikkunnappuzha.

“In Kerala, Christians are the new target group. People seem to have apprehensions about the work of missionaries and the service in churches,” says Sajan K George, president, Global Council of Indian Christians. The report has been sent to the Central government, various departments and the national Human Rights Commission, he said.

Along with attacks on missionaries, Kerala also saw desecration of churches last year. In Pathanamthitta, the St Kuriakose Orthodox Church was robbed and the Holy Communion desecrated; and in St Anthony’s Forane Church, the glass encasement of Jesus Christ was broken by miscreants. In a similar incident, Velankanni Catholic Church at Kottenkulangara, near Kollam, was desecrated. Miscreants vandalized the altar and confession cubicle.

“Politics is the major factor behind the attacks in Karnataka, but in Kerala the civil society is stronger, so the number of attacks is less,” said Sajan George.