Increasing incidents of attacks on pastors and churches have alarmed the Christian community in the state prompting the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC) to lodge a complaint with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday. Officials said in the last two years, 76 incidents were reported in the state.
On January 11, pastor P Sanjeev of Vikarabad in Ranga Reddy was stabbed to death outside his house by four persons. Police arrested activists of Hindu Vahini for the murder. On December 13, pastor Nama Moses and his wife were attacked at Narketpally in Nalgonda district. In November, pastor Talla Christopher was attacked in the same district by two persons and on the same day pastor of Ippathi church G Niladri Pal was attacked. On October 16, a pastor in Budvel in Ranga Reddy districts was dragged out of his home and beaten up.
Pastors of many churches in Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Kurnool, East and West Godavari have also complained of threats and intimidation. Police arrested a few activists of Hindu Vahini for the attack on the Vikarabad pastor P Sanjeev of Hebron Church. “A few days before the attack there was an altercation in which a few persons came and accused the pastor of organising forcible conversions. On January 11 four persons knocked on the door and when pastor Sanjeev opened, they asked him to accompany to pray for a dying person. He was stabbedwhen he stepped out ,” said Inspector V L Ram.
A delegation of APFC, a state-level apex body of archbishops, bishops and heads of mainline churches and major Christian denominations representing the Christian community in the state, had a meeting with the CM and requested him to make efforts to rein in the Hindu Vahini and extremist elements involved. APFC president Archbishop Thumma Bala and others submitted the memorandum.
“Some of those arrested told the police the conspiracy and systematic plan of the Hindu Vahini for attacking and killing of the pastors all over the state. Now with the general elections around, we fear there is an attempt to whip up trouble by attacking Christians,’’ Father Thumma said. The APFC demanded that the government ban Hindu Vahini to guarantee the security of Christians.