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2 Christians found murdered
Fourth incident of violence causes scare in Uttarakhand
S. M. A. Kazmi
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, September 22
In the fourth incident of violence against Christians in Uttarakhand, Sadhu Astey (56), a Catholic preacher and his disciple, Mercy (32), were found strangulated to death in “Samarpanalaya”, an ashram run by them in Chotta Rampur.

In a bizarre incident that led to scare amongst Christians in Uttarakhand, a Christian Catholic priest and a women volunteer were found murdered in their ‘ashram’ in Chotta Rampur village near Herbertpur in Vikasnagar tehsil of Dehra Dun district today.

According to Harish Verma, circle officer of the police, Sadhu Astey (56), a Catholic preacher and his disciple, Mercy (32), were found strangulated to death in “Samarpanalaya”, an ashram run by them.

Since it was the fourth incident of attacks on Christians in Dehra Dun in the past three months, the Congress has demanded the invocation of Article 355 by the Central government in giving directions to the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Uttarakhand.

Police officials said that since there was no movement for the past two days in the ashram, the local residents grew suspicious and informed the police. When the police entered the ashram, they found Sadhu Astey and Mercy both strangulated to death. The ashram was found ransacked. “We are investigating these murders to know whether it was done by dacoits with an intention to loot or there is something else,” Harish Verma told mediapersons. Police believe that both were probably mudered two days ago.

Sadhu Astey, a priest and healer was a respected man in the entire area and was running a prayer hall. The dead bodies have been brought to Dehra Dun for postmortem. “We will send the body of Sadhu Astey to Meerut while Mercy, being a local, would be buried here,” Hari Rao, a prominent Christian told The Tribune.

It was the fourth attack on Christian missionaries in Dehra Dun district in the past few months. Sangh Parivar activists had attacked Christian missionaries on August 15 when they were distributing their leaflets. They were brought to police station and beaten up there on Independence day. Interestingly, instead of taking action against the attackers, the police detained five of the Christian leaders for nine hours. It was on the intervention of senior Congress leaders who lodged a strong protest with the Uttarakhand Director General of Police, Subhash Joshi, on the telephone that they were released.

On June 4, during the Bharat bandh call given by the BJP, a school run by a Christian was ransacked allegedly by BJP activists led by local legislator. In another incident, Pastor Jonathan. A.Singh was attacked by the Sangh parivar activists on June 22 when he was addressing a prayer meeting being held in a hotel in Krishnanagar locality of the city. Despite complaints lodged by the Christian community, no action has been taken by the police and administration in all the three attacks.

These attacks and the recent murders have prompted the Uttarakhand Congress to demand invocation of Article 355 by the Centre.




Church Attacks
Karnataka to invoke Goonda Act

Bangalore, September 22
Facing flak for "failure" to rein in those who vandalized churches in parts of the state, the BJP government in Karnataka on Monday decided to invoke the stringent Goonda Act against the culprits.

The decision, adopted at an emergent meeting of the state cabinet, comes after a week-long unrest the state witnessed in the form of attacks on about 20 churches and prayer halls volved in attacks on places of worship under the Goonda Act", chief minister B S Yeddyurappa told a press conference issuing a stern warning to perpetrators of the attacks.

He also accused the opposition parties of trying to topple his government.

"Opposition Congress and JD(S) have hatched a conspiracy to somehow topple the BJP Government", Yeddyurappa, whose government is yet to complete four months in office, charged a day after the VHP dismissed the hand of Sangh Parivar outfits in the attacks.

Yeddyurappa also hit out at the Centre accusing it of ‘bias’ towards the BJP-ruled state in sending warning advisories in the wake of the attacks.

Why similar advisories were not sent to the Congress government in Delhi after serial bomb blasts and to the then S M Krishna Government in Karnataka, which the Supreme Court at that time said had no moral right to continue in office because of failure to nab forest brigand Veerappan, he said. —Agencies




Church Attacks
High-level central team to visit Karnataka
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22
Alarmed at the continuation in attacks on churches in Karnataka, a senior home ministry official will lead a high-level central team to the state tomorrow to review the security measures for tackling the situation, a spokesperson of the ministry said here tonight.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil today asked special secretary (internal security) ML Kumawat to go to Bangalore tomorrow to assess the situation, sources in the ministry said. Kumawat will be accompanied by joint secretary (human resources) AK Yadav. The central team is scheduled to hold discussions with the chief secretary and other senior state government officials. The MHA team will also visit Mangalore, where several churches have been attacked, and review the situation with district officials there. In fresh incidents, four churches were ransacked yesterday in Bangalore town and elsewhere.

Last week, the state had been put on notice by the Centre.



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