The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has called on Karnataka state leaders to act immediately to safeguard the small Christian community in the Indian state before any “major untoward incident takes place”.

Christians, said EFI, have good reason to anticipate an outbreak of violence against them following a “vicious and malicious hate campaign”, which has resulted in an atmosphere of fear and apprehension within the Christian community.

The invasion by Hindutva nationalists of a church in Hubballi, Karnataka and the attack on its Pastor Somu Avaradhi, was one of 39 violent incidents this year recorded by the EFI fact-finding team.

“It is equally obvious that those involved in carrying out this hate campaign and fear-mongering enjoy protection and possibly support of elements in the political and law and order apparatus,” added EFI in a report published on 13 December following a fact-finding visit to the state.

The list is not exhaustive, said EFI, as many incidents go unreported, either due to fear of retribution or a lack of co-operation from local police. It is noteworthy that incidents increased since October following the state government’s announcement of the tabling of an anti-conversion law.

The government of Karnataka has said that it will introduce the anti-conversion law in the winter session of the state Legislative Assembly that began on 13 December.

Pastors in the Belagavi district of Karnataka have stopped holding weekend prayer meetings in rented halls or private homes in order to avoid confrontations with radical Hindutva extremists.

Barnabas Fund