Independence Day Prayers for India Disrupted, Barred

In a demoralizing incident on India's 60th Independence Day, police in Mysore, India, told a group of 70 believers to stop offering Independence Day prayers without permission after Hindu radicals barged in to the prayer hall and disrupted them.

The pastors and the congregation of Full Gospel Church in the Mysore District of India's Karnataka state gathered Wednesday at around 10:30 am in the morning to pray for the country when they were disrupted an hour later by a gang believed to be from Hindu groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The RSS/VHP activists, numbering about 20, reportedly barged into the prayer meeting of the church and dragged out the pastors – Vinod Chacko, 32, and C.T. Joseph, 38 – along with church members Chinnaswamy and Salvino. They also abused the congregation and accused them of anti-national activities.

The pastors were then taken to Nangengode police station where police inspector Lakshmikanth Talwar and sub inspector Prabhakar – under pressure from radicals – told the pastors that no prayers can be held on Independence Day without police permission.

The pastors may have to appear before the police on Saturday, Aug. 18.

"Believers had gathered merely to offer prayers for their country in a peaceful manner," a reporter for New Delhi-based Christian Today wrote in a report of the incident on Wednesday. "Instead of celebrating the Independence, which marks freedom for India, these radicals deny the freedom of worship for believers which the right inscribed in the constitution of Independent India granted them.

The report also noted that the incident is one of many amid the recent escalation of attacks on Christians in Karnataka state.