Arrest made following anti-Christian attacks in India

By staff writers
September 23, 2008

A senior Bajrang Dal leader in Karnataka, Mahendra Kumar, has been arrested in connection with the widespread attack on Christian churches and prayer halls, police officials and the Indian Catholic Bishops Conference in India have announced.

Mr Kumar was arrested late on Friday 19 September 2008, a day after central government told the state's BJP government that people who violently attacked the places of worship was roaming freely and they should be curbed to "bring the situation under control"

Last week the central government issued an advisory asking the state to take immediate effective steps to check the violence, which it said was a "breach" of the Constitution.

Some 15 churches and prayer halls in Karnataka were attacked over the weekend, following similar clashes in the eastern state of Orissa which left nearly 30 dead.

The Orissa violence, triggered by contradictory allegations following the murder of a Hindu priest and four followers, forced thousands of people, mostly Christians, to flee their homes and many are still living in state-run camps.

Soon after the attacks on churches on 15 September (in parts of Mangalore and Udupi in coastal regions and in Chikamaglur in Malnad area, Bajrang) Dal owned responsibility for them, claiming that incidents of forced conversion had prompted them.

Kumar is convenor of Karnataka's Bajrang Dal unit. They are among several Hindu radical groups that accuse missionaries of using force and inducement to convert poor tribal people and low-caste Hindus.

Accusations have taken place of forced conversions on both sides, some substantiated and others not.

Human rights activists, Christians and Hindus have all condemned the violence and called for public order and reconciliation.

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