attacks against Christians elsewhere in India reportedly continued.
A court in Gujarat sentenced Madhavlal Patel to life behind bars, 14 years under Indian law, for killing Robinson Joseph Swami in 2004. Judge M.P. Gamara of the Ahmedabad Sessions Court also gave a fine of plus a fine of 1,000 rupees (US$22), news reports said. The ruling was made October 19, but news of the outcome of this highly charged trial emerged Monday, November 13.
On Christmas Eve, 2004. driver Swami asked Patel for 500 rupees (US$11), the amount due him, plus an advance of 700 rupees (US$16) to celebrate Christmas, said Samson Christian, joint secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC) in a statement released by Compass Direct News agency.
"Unbelievably, Patel got so furious that he told him, ‘Today you will be killed’," Christian said. "Patel brought some petrol in a container, poured it on Swami and lit a matchstick," and eventually killing him.
The court case comes amid growing concern about Hindu violence directed against Christians elsewhere in India, including in the southern state of Karnataka, where on Sunday, November 12, Hindu militants reportedly slapped a convert suffering from blood cancer.
Hindu militants have also threatened to ensure that Christian converts, most of them former Hindus, will not be able to join churches. An alleged supporter of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also went to the house of Pastor C. Samuel John in Lakkavalli village of the state’s Chickmagalur district this weekend and allegedly vowed that converts would not be allowed to join churches.
They accused John, the owner of a Christian orphanage, of forcibly converting Dalits, Compass Direct News said. The Global Council of Indian Christians has expressed concerns that Hindu extremists "are likely to hold a rally against Christians" this week on November 15.”
Besides reports of violence in Karnataka, Christians in Chhattisgarh state were on Monday, November 12, still recovering from attacks against them during a village council. The meeting in Bamhni village in Bastar was interrupted when a local politician and others attacked six Christians, including a pregnant woman, Compass Direct News said.
Villagers watched as the pregnant Sukbati Mandavi was kicked in the stomach. It was not immediately clear what her current medical status was. After politician Puran Patel and others beat the believers, the Christians fled to nearby Kondagaon police station – where officers refused to help them, Compass Direct News said.
Officials could not immediately be reached for comments. However rights groups have linked the violence to fears among several Hindu groups about the perceived rapid spread of Christianity in several areas of India, a predominantly Hindu nation of roughly 1.1 billion people. (With reports from India).